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Yankees, Giambi encouraged by slugger's breakthrough blast

Jason Giambi's home run against Toronto resonated with the recovering slugger, his teammates and Yankees manager Joe Torre.

Giambi's two-run, opposite-field drive in the second inning put the Yankees ahead to stay in Tuesday night's 5-3 win, stopping an 0-for-32 slide. Giambi's first homer since June 20 also gave him hope he can play himself into shape to make New York's postseason roster.

Wednesday, he remembered the feeling he had crossing the plate.

"Everyone was excited for me. That's when it really hit me. That's one of the probably few times ever in my career I got to enjoy the moment," he said. "It was pretty special."

Torre hopes Giambi, who has fought to overcome a benign tumor and other ailments, can be his team's designated hitter in the postseason, if not in the first round perhaps in the league title series if New York advances.

Giambi, who didn't start Wednesday against left-hander Ted Lilly, is batting .212 with 12 homers and 39 RBIs.

"I don't need him back all the way," Torre said. "Even if he's like 80 percent, he's still going to be better than a lot of players. So I just need to see some consistency. I think last night was a big step, not the fact that he hit a home run, but the fact that he hit a home run to left-centerfield. That's not easy to do, to drive the ball."

PENALTIES REDUCED: Rangers relievers Frank Francisco, Doug Brocail and Carlos Almanzar dropped their appeals of suspensions that stemmed from the altercation with fans near the Texas bullpen in Oakland last week.

Each suspension was reduced by one game, Francisco's to 15, Brocail's to six and Almanzar's to four.

Francisco threw a plastic chair into the stands near the visitors bullpen in Oakland that broke the nose of a woman whose husband had been heckling throughout the Sept. 13 game.

GREEN TO SIT AT LEAST ONCE: Dodgers first baseman Shawn Green will definitely sit out at least one game of a weekend series against the Giants in observance of Yom Kippur, but he will wait until today to make his final decision.

Green, who is Jewish, said he might sit out both Friday night and Saturday afternoon. He planned to talk with his wife and parents.

Yom Kippur, the holiest day on the Jewish calendar, starts at sunset Friday. The three-game series at San Francisco begins that night.

CUBS: Shortstop Nomar Garciaparra returned to the lineup for the first time since Sept. 11 because of a strained groin. Garciaparra thinks the injury is related to the Achilles' tendon injury that bothered him throughout the first half.

RED SOX: Shortstop Orlando Cabrera was in the lineup after missing two games to be with his wife, who had surgery in Colombia.

WHITE SOX: Magglio Ordonez's injured left knee is starting to heal, and the rightfielder is close to beginning his rehabilitation. Ordonez has been on the disabled list since July 22 with bone marrow edema in his left knee.

_ TIMES WIRES

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