July 2, 2002 at 11:04 PM EST - Updated July 3 at 4:16 PM
By JOSH DUBOW, AP Sports Writer
NEW YORK (AP) - Jim Thome stepped to the plate with the bases loaded in the seventh inning, his seven-game homer streak on the line and the game within reach.
Yet the Cleveland slugger couldn't come through in the big moment, ending his run one game shy of the major league record as the Indians' losing streak stretched to five games.
"You like for them to last, but they don't go on forever," Thome said after going 0-for-3 with a walk in Cleveland's 7-1 loss to the New York Yankees on Thursday.
Thome (pictured, above) failed to tie the major league record, falling short of the mark reached by Ken Griffey Jr. when he was with Seattle (1993), Don Mattingly of the Yankees (1987) and Dale Long of Pittsburgh (1956).
Thome had a sore back on Thursday but remained in the lineup.
"He was hurting today," Indians manager Charlie Manuel said. "But he wanted to be in there. They threw some strikes to him. He just didn't get it done today."
With anticipation surrounding each of his at-bats, Thome grounded out, ending the first inning against Mike Mussina.
He then came up with runners on second and third and two outs in the third. Pitching coach Mel Stottlemyre went to the mound to confer with Mussina, who didn't give Thome anything to hit before intentionally walking him on a 3-0 pitch.
The move paid off when Travis Fryman flied out, ending the inning.
"Hitting a home run seven straight game is pretty impressive," Mussina said. "If he came up I wasn't going to let him beat us. If someone else came through, so be it. I wasn't going to let him beat us."
Thome felt he got only one really good pitch to hit all game. But he wasn't able to pull the trigger on Mussina's 1-2 fastball over the inner half of the plate leading off the sixth inning.
"It just froze me," he said. "That happens."
Thome's biggest chance came with the Indians trailing 4-1 in the seventh inning. With the bases loaded and one out, lefty Mike Stanton entered the game.
Stanton retired pinch-hitter Ellis Burks on a popup before Thome stepped to the plate with a chance to give the Indians the lead.
"With the bases loaded, you don't want to go at him tentatively," Stanton said. "The key to that was to get ahead of him."
Stanton did just that, starting Thome with two called strikes. After a foul ball, Thome flied out harmlessly to center field in his final at-bat of the game.
"You just hope he makes a mistake and he didn't," Thome said.
Thome is now 5-for-15 with no homers in his career against Stanton.
"I've gotten him in the past, he's gotten me in the past," Stanton said. "This time I came out ahead."
Thome beat some of the best pitchers in the game during his remarkable streak, which started June 26 in Fenway Park when he connected off Boston's Frank Castillo.
Thome also homered against former Cy Young Award winners Pedro Martinez and Roger Clemens, 20-game winners Curt Schilling and David Wells, as well as lefties Greg Swindell and Brian Anderson during the streak.
But he couldn't come through against Mussina and Stanton.
"Mussina pitched well," Thome said. "He spotted his fastball real well and their bullpen came in and did the job."
(Copyright 2002 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)