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All's not Wells in return

Yankees' rallies shock San Diego

NEW YORK -- The Yankee Stadium crowd rocked and roared -- and it wasn't for David Wells.

Pinch hitter Ruben Sierra had just capped a four-run 12th inning with a winning sacrifice fly yesterday to give New York yet another stirring comeback victory, 6-5 over the San Diego Padres.

"I know weird things happen in Yankee Stadium, but this was amazing," Alex Rodriguez said.

Trailing, 2-0, heading into the ninth, the Yankees tied it when Hideki Matsui and pinch hitter Kenny Lofton hit consecutive homers with two outs off Trevor Hoffman.

Then, after San Diego took a three-run lead in the 12th, the Yankees rallied again for their 16th win in 19 games. New York has come from behind in 19 of its last 27 victories, and has won 26 times this year after trailing.

In Wells's return to Yankee Stadium, the 41-year-old lefthander allowed five hits in seven shutout innings. It was his first start against his former team since signing with the Padres during the offseason, and the crowd gave him a warm welcome. "It was touching, I got a little choked up," Wells said. "I'll always appreciate them -- what they have done for me."

But Hoffman blew his second save in 16 chances this season on two pitches, with Matsui and Lofton sending their homers into the right-field stands.

Lofton, who came off the disabled list Saturday, homered for the first time since joining the Yankees as a free agent in the offseason. At first, Sierra had been in the on-deck circle to bat for Tony Clark. "Once Matsui hit his homer, I changed my mind," manager Joe Torre said. "I was hoping that Lofton would figure out a way to get on base and steal. I certainly wasn't thinking home run."

San Diego went ahead, 5-2, in the 12th on Mark Loretta's sacrifice fly off Bret Prinz and Brian Giles's RBI single off Felix Heredia (1-1), a ball that glanced off Gary Sheffield's glove in right for an error that allowed the third run of the inning to score. But Rod Beck (0-1) walked Bernie Williams leading off the bottom half, and Derek Jeter doubled.

Rodriguez hit an RBI grounder, and Sheffield singled Jeter to third. Jason Giambi then singled, pulling the Yankees to 5-4. Jay Witasick relieved and Jorge Posada greeted the ex-Yankee with a tying RBI double down the right-field line. After Matsui was intentionally walked, Sierra hit a fly to center, sending the crowd of 52,754 into a delirious ovation. Wells allowed a leadoff single to Williams, but didn't give the Yankees much after that, retiring seven in a row before allowing consecutive singles in the third. He then retired 10 straight until Rodriguez singled with two outs in the sixth. San Diego backed Wells with Khalil Greene's second-inning homer and Terrence Long's RBI double in the seventh.

He rose to the occasion, he gave us a great effort," Padres manager Bruce Bochy said. "It's hard to pitch much better than he did today."

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