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Cone, Yankees mug Rangers

David Cone usually beats the Rangers. Even control problems failed to derail him Tuesday.

Cone dominated baseball's top-hitting team, taking a no-hitter into the fifth inning and leading the New York Yankees over Texas 7-2 Tuesday night for their 20th win in 22 games.

"The thing is, nobody is satisfied. We can always do better, and we want to do more," Cone said. "I really wanted to throw quality pitches against the hottest lineup in the league."

Paul O'Neill, who failed to homer in his first 25 games, connected for the second straight game, a three-run shot in the first off John Burkett. At 21-6 the Yankees are off to their best start since the 1958 team opened 21-5.

"We're pumped up, and we're on a hell of a run, no question," manager Joe Torre said.

Cone improved to 7-3 against Texas and won his fourth straight start. He didn't allow a hit until Kevin Elster's infield single with one out in the fifth, and he wound up allowing two runs and three hits in five innings.

"I had great stuff, but I just threw too many pitches," Cone said. "I was just missing. With the big early lead (6-1), I was able to relax. That gives the whole team a great feeling. You're happy any time you have a lead when you're pitching."

After Elster's hit, Luis Alicea beat out a bunt single, and Cone strained his left knee trying to get to the ball. He then struck out Tom Goodwin, but Mark McLemore looped a run-scoring single to left.

"I tried to get the bunt, and I heard a little bit of a popping sound," Cone said. "I had reconstructive surgery on the same knee 16 years ago. Any time you tweak a knee like that, you are concerned. But it's not too sore, and I think I'll be okay."

Cone, who threw 101 pitches, was diagnosed with a slight knee strain. Darren Holmes and Jeff Nelson completed the four-hitter.