After dominating the Yankees in April, the Boston Red Sox are once again coming up short against the defending AL champions.
They’ll try to end a four-game losing streak to New York when the bitter rivals resume a three-game series at Fenway Park.
The Red Sox, who lost a heartbreaking Game 7 in last year’s AL championship series at Yankee Stadium, beat up on the Yankees during the season’s first month, outscoring New York 34-19 in taking six of seven meetings.
However, the Yankees rebounded to sweep a three-game series in the Bronx from June 29-July 1. After taking the opener of that set 11-3, New York rallied from a late two-run deficit to pull out a 4-2 win and then outlasted Boston 5-4 in a 13-inning classic in the finale.
The Red Sox appeared poised to put the Yankees away Friday night, coming back from a 7-4 deficit to forge an eighth-inning tie on Kevin Millar’s third homer of the game, a solo shot off New York reliever Tom Gordon.
However, Gordon escaped further trouble and Alex Rodriguez drove home Gary Sheffield with a run-scoring single off the Green Monster in the top of the ninth as the Yankees edged the Red Sox 8-7. Rodriguez, who was nearly traded to Boston this past winter, went 1-for-17 during his first visit as a Yankee to Fenway in April.
“It feels like it was five years ago,” the reigning AL MVP said of that series.
The victory gave first-place New York a 9 1/2 -game lead over Boston in the AL East, and may have forced the Red Sox to focus more seriously on pursuing the wild card. The Yankees’ lead is their biggest since they won the division by 10 1/2 games in 2002.
“Every loss to me is huge,” Red Sox manager Terry Francona said. “We’re just trying so desperately to get on the right track.”
New York and Boston have finished first and second, respectively, in the East every year since 1998.
Millar has five homers in his last three games after hitting five in his first 85. His feat Friday came exactly two years after the previous three-homer game at Fenway Park, by Nomar Garciaparra against Tampa Bay.
The Red Sox are 4-7 since their five-game winning streak earlier this month.
The Yankees have won four straight since dropping three of five.
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