Baseball: Cuban gives Yankees reason to cheer

THE BASEBALL star who fled Cuba aboard a life-raft last December in search of freedom and riches, pitched the New York Yankees to a game two victory over the San Diego Padres in the World Series.

Orlando "El Duque" Hernandez, the brother of last season's World Series most valuable player, Livan Hernandez of the Florida Marlins, surrendered one run in seven innings as the Bronx Bombers won 9-3.

"He threw well," Bruce Bochy, the San Diego manager, said. "He had good stuff. He hit his spots."

America's most famous professional club now have a 2-0 advantage in the best-of-seven series with the showdown moving to southern California for the third game. The Yankees have won six consecutive World Series games, dating back to their victory over Atlanta two years ago.

"He kept the hitters off balance. He's sneaky. He was impressive," said the Yankees catcher Jorge Posada. "He has a fastball that's sneaky. He has a lot of odd angles. He comes right at you. He throws strikes."

Bernie Williams and Posada each slammed two-run home runs while Tino Martinez and Scott Brosius collected three singles apiece.

Even if the Padres can solve the Yankees pitching, they are going to have to score a lot of runs. The Yankees have now crossed home plate nine times in each of their last three games.