INDIANS 4, Yankees 3

Monday, June 4th 2001, 12:00 am
By: News On 6

NEW YORK (AP) _ Charles Nagy looked like he'd never missed a single start.

More than a year since his last major league victory, Nagy made an impressive return Sunday, leading the pitching-depleted Cleveland Indians past the New York Yankees 4-3.

``It's been a long road,'' he said.

Once one of baseball's most durable starters _ he did not miss a turn in the rotation for more than six years _ Nagy underwent surgery on his right elbow last May and missed most of the season.

With Chuck Finley already on the disabled list and ace Bartolo Colon reporting pain in his right elbow, the Indians needed Nagy to deliver in his 2001 debut.

Nagy (1-0) did just that, limiting the Yankees to one run and four hits in seven innings. He earned his first win in the majors since May 16, 2000.

``No one expected me to be here right now,'' he said. ``I was comfortable out there.

``My arm feels fine, better than it felt all of last year,'' Nagy added. ``I guess people don't believe me when I tell them that.''

Nagy held the Yankees to only one hit _ Derek Jeter's home run _ through five innings.

``He surprised me a little bit with his velocity,'' Indians manager Charlie Manuel said. ``I couldn't see that coming.

``That was very important, very big for us,'' he said.

Pitching aggressively rather than gingerly, Nagy looked exactly like the pitcher who won at least 15 games each season from 1995-99. Greg Maddux was the only other pitcher to accomplish the feat in that span.

Nagy, activated from the disabled list Friday and pitching in Finley's place, walked three. His lone strikeout was a big one, fanning Paul O'Neill with two runners on base to end the sixth with the score 1-all.

Nagy became the first Indians' starter to get through the seventh inning since Colon on May 22.

``It surprised you that he went that far after being on the disabled list,'' Yankees manager Joe Torre said. ``He had to know he was on a short leash.''

Nagy was 5-1 with a 2.56 ERA at Triple-A Buffalo on his 30-day rehabilitation assignment. The Connecticut native, once again pitching in front of friends and family members, improved to 6-4 lifetime at Yankee Stadium.

``This is a great place to pitch,'' he said. ``I always enjoy coming back here. I've been throwing a lot down there in Buffalo and Florida. I really didn't have any expectations about today.''

Roberto Alomar homered in the first inning off Andy Pettitte (6-4) and hit a tiebreaking sacrifice fly in the eighth.

``After what happened with Bartolo, the way Charlie pitched today was a huge plus for us,'' Alomar said.

Einar Diaz added a two-run single in the ninth off reliever Carlos Almanzar to give Cleveland a 4-1 lead.

Bob Wickman pitched the ninth, giving up Scott Brosius' two-run homer before getting his 12th save in 12 chances.

Notes: There was a moment of silence for Gene Woodling, who died Saturday at 78. He started his career with Cleveland in 1943 and played outfield for Yankees teams that won the World Series from 1949-53. ... Longtime PA announcer Bob Sheppard did not work because of laryngitis. ... Colon will be examined Monday in Cleveland. ... The Yankees will face Pedro Martinez for the third time in 12 days when Boston visits for a makeup game Monday night. ... Jim Thome's streak of eight straight games with an extra-base hit ended. ... Pettitte has pitched at least six innings in all 12 of his starts this year.