Yankees 7, Red Sox 1

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NEW YORK (AP)—When Bill Mueller’s homer sailed over the left-field fence in the first inning, the New York Yankees seemed headed for another long day against Boston’s relentless offense.

Instead, Andy Pettitte shut down baseball’s top-hitting team and gave the Yankees just the lift they needed.

Pettitte struck out 10 in eight innings and Curtis Pride homered in his Yankees debut, leading New York to a 7-1 victory over the Red Sox on Sunday.

“He’s pitched some big games for us,” manager Joe Torre said. “I don’t know if he’s pitched any bigger regular-season games than this one because of the way we were beat up the last two days.”

Alfonso Soriano went 3-for-5 with a two-run triple to help the Yankees snap a three-game losing streak and move three games ahead of second-place Boston in the AL East.

“This wasn’t a must-win game, but it was big,” Pettitte said. “I knew we had to have it in a big way.”

After watching David Wells and Roger Clemens get hammered for eight runs apiece in the first two games of the four-game series, Pettitte (10-6) got New York back on track.

He was almost perfect after Mueller’s homer—Boston’s 11th of the series. He retired 16 straight between Kevin Millar’s leadoff single in the second and Manny Ramirez’s one-out single in the seventh.

“If you make a mistake, they’re going to hurt you,” Pettitte said. “Even when you don’t they’ll get you. They’re a great hitting ballclub. I was very fortunate to be able to hold them down.”

By the time Ramirez got his hit, the Yankees led 4-1 despite again squandering many scoring opportunities. New York was 1-for-12 with runners in scoring position in the game and 2-for-28 in the series until breaking through in a three-run seventh.

But it didn’t matter because Pettitte allowed just four hits to win his fifth straight start.

The Red Sox, who lead the majors in runs and hitting, averaged nearly 10 runs per game over their last 11 contests before being shut down by Pettitte.

“He had everything working together today. He was nasty,” Ramirez said. “It was the best we’ve ever seen Pettitte.”

He even shut down David Ortiz, who became the first visiting player ever with consecutive multihomer games at Yankee Stadium. Pettitte fanned Ortiz all three times.

“Pitchers are trying to figure out how to get hitters out and hitters are trying to figure how to get hits,” Red Sox manager Grady Little said. “I think Andy figured it out a little better today.”

The Yankees overcame the early deficit quickly, scoring twice in the first inning against John Burkett (6-4).

Soriano led off with a double and Burkett retired the next two batters before Ruben Sierra hit a soft single to center to tie the game. Sierra scored on Hideki Matsui’s double to left-center.

“It was a bit of a struggle,” Burkett said. “I didn’t think I had my best stuff.”

The Yankees left the bases loaded in the second without scoring and loaded the bases again with two outs in the fifth. Burkett walked Robin Ventura on four pitches to force in a run before getting Karim Garcia to ground out to end the inning.

Pride started the sixth with a drive over the center-field fence off Burkett for his first major league homer since May 27, 2001, with Montreal. He had been out of the majors since 2001 before being called up by the Yankees on Friday.

“This is a very emotional experience for me. I had tears in my eyes,” he said.

Despite being almost totally deaf, Pride could sense the standing ovation from the sellout crowd after his homer and took a curtain call.

“I felt the vibrations. Joe Torre and Don Zimmer told me to go up,” he said. “I was kind of reluctant to go up but it made me feel good.”

The Yankees broke the game open with three runs off Todd Jones in the seventh. Soriano hit a two-run triple and scored on Derek Jeter’s infield single.

“We needed to win today,” Torre said. “Even if you’re in first place, you lose confidence somewhat when someone beats you up the way they did the lastcouple of days.”

Notes

Burkett has allowed 15 runs in his first inning over his last seven appearances. … Burkett allowed four runs and 10 hits in 5 1-3 innings, just the third loss for a Boston starter in 18 decisions since June 4. … Pettitte is 13-4 in his career against Boston, including a win in the 1999 ALCS. …Boston SS Nomar Garciaparra went 0-for-4 and is 1-for-13 in the series.

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