The New York Yankees have put their early season struggles far behind them, and are in their most dominating stretch in the last seven years.
Carl Pavano will try to keep it going as he looks to win his fifth straight decision overall and his third straight start when the Yankees face the Boston Red Sox in the middle game of their weekend series.
New York, in last place at 11-19 three weeks ago following its worst start since 1966, has won 16 of its last 18. That is the Yankees’ best stretch since winning 22 of 24 in 1998—when they won a franchise-record 114 games—after 1-4 start.
New York won its its ninth straight at home, and is now second in the AL East, 3 1/2 games behind Baltimore.
Johnson struck out just three and allowed hits to his final five batters in the top of the sixth inning, but Boston managed only one run, with Cano and Tony Womack throwing out runners at the plate.
“I don’t think we ran into outs. They made plays,” Red Sox manager Terry Francona said. “We strung some hits together, we just didn’t have much to show for it.”
Mariano Rivera, who had blown his first two save attempts of the year against Boston, got two outs for his 12th save in 14 chances.
Pavano, 0-2 with a 3.86 ERA in his first three starts, is 4-0 with 3.64 ERA in his last seven. He has allowed just one earned run and 13 hits in 16 innings spanning his last two starts, after giving up at least three earned runs in his previous four outings.
Pavano will be opposed by Matt Clement, who is unbeaten in his first 10 starts for Boston. The right-hander, signed as a free-agent from the Chicago Cubs in the offseason, pitched seven perfect innings during his sixth career complete game, a 5-2 victory over the Atlanta Braves on Sunday.
He struck out seven, walked none and allowed four hits in Boston’s first complete game this season, lowering his ERA to 3.34. Clement is the first Red Sox pitcher to start 5-0 in his first season with the team since John Burkett went 7-0 in 2002.
“You always want to get off to a good start with a new team,” he said. “It’s nice to feel like you fit in from the get-go and that’s how it’s felt from the day I walked in at spring training.”