Dave Winfield's ninth-inning bloop single scored Rickey Henderson and gave the New York Yankees a 6-5 victory over the Kansas City Royals yesterday in Yankee Stadium. Probably as important in the scheme of things was a pregame pep talk Winfield gave Henderson.

Winfield talked him into playing with a sore ankle. And all Henderson did was reach base all five times up -- two singles, two walks and an error -- steal three bases and score four runs.

"Last night (Tuesday), I twisted my ankle and it puffed up a little," said Henderson, now hitting .361 with 41 stolen bases in 44 tries. "They put ice on it and it felt better. Winnie said, 'Come on, let's play. You're the guy who makes things happen. We need you.' "

Henderson opened the ninth with a single off Dan Quisenberry (4-5). After an out, Henderson stole despite a pitchout.

"I pitched out, I stepped off and threw over, I quick-pitched, I tried to hold the ball and make him run flatfooted, but he still got a pretty good jump," Quisenberry said of Henderson's third steal.

After which Don Mattingly, who doubled home the tying run in the seventh inning after twice scoring Henderson with sacrifice flies, was purposely walked.

And Winfield hit a pop fly that dropped safely in short center. "It looked like he hit it with a tennis racket," Quisenberry said. "He used his Bobby Riggs stroke."

The hit made a prophet of Winfield. As he stepped to the plate, the message board flashed that he had eight game-winning RBI. "I told the home plate ump (Jim McKean) that I'll change it to nine," Winfield said.

Dave Righetti (7-6) won, after Dennis Rasmussen had gone seven innings and allowed only three hits -- two of them White's first-inning grand slam and a homer by George Brett (.353) in the sixth.

Mattingly extended his hitting streak to 18 games, tying for the majors' longest in 1985.