Yankees 8, Red Sox 4
BOSTON (AP)—Roger Clemens walked off to a standing ovation and came out for a curtain call, tipping his cap and waving to fans who saw what may have been his last pitch at Fenway Park.
“It was very special,” he said. “It gave me the opportunity to say thank you.”
And it gave Boston fans, who often booed Clemens after he left Boston following the 1996 season, a chance to show appreciation even though the New York Yankees were on their way to an 8-4 win Sunday over the Red Sox.
“It was exciting and that’s what it should have been,” Jason Giambi said. “The reason why they boo him is because they miss him. And Boston fans are just like New York fans. They love great players.”
The victory was the 100th for Clemens at Fenway Park, where he wore the home uniform from 1984-96, compiling a 192-111 mark for Boston. He plans to retire after this season and could pitch again in Boston, where he is 100-55 in 199 regular-season starts, only if the teams meet in the playoffs.
The win boosted the Yankees to a 5 1/2 -game lead over the Red Sox in the AL East, although they lost Derek Jeter, probably for at least three games, with a rib cage injury.
After losing Friday’s opener of the three-game series and trailing Pedro Martinez 3-0 Saturday, the Yankees took two of three.
“It’s nice in that they’re obviously the team chasing us,” Aaron Boone said, but “we’ve got to continue to play well this month and if we do we’ll be where we want to be.”
Clemens (13-8) struck out three, walked two and allowed four runs on six hits in 6 2-3 innings. He left after throwing 112 pitches, the last a ball that walked Gabe Kapler to load the bases with two outs in the seventh.
Then came the cheers.
“I’ve always had great fans when I pitched here,” Clemens said. “When I walk around town here, I still have a ton of friends.”
He rebounded from a 13-2 loss Tuesday to the Chicago White Sox in which he allowed four homers and nine runs. On Sunday, he got plenty of support with a three-run first inning.
“I don’t think he had his best stuff,” Boston’s Todd Walker said. “But Roger at 75 to 80 percent is better than anyone out there.”
Boston threatened in the ninth, loading the bases against Jeff Nelson on singles by David McCarty and Lou Merloni and a two-out walk to Jason Varitek. But Mariano Rivera got his 31st save in 37 chances when he struck out Nomar Garciaparra, who went 0-for-5.
“As dismal as that game looked,” Kevin Millar said, “we still had a chance to tie it up in the ninth. This offense never quits.”
The loss dropped Boston 1 1/2 games behind Seattle in the wild-card race after the Mariners’ 3-0 win over Baltimore.
Yankees manager Joe Torre said Jeter strained his left rib cage reaching to hit a ball in the fifth inning. He left after his seventh-inning single. Torre said Jeter probably would miss at least the three-game series against Toronto starting Monday.
The Red Sox were more short-handed.
They played their third straight game without left fielder Manny Ramirez, sidelined with a throat infection. Center fielder Johnny Damon also missed the game after being shaken up Saturday in a collision with Gabe Kapler, who had filled in for Ramirez in left.
Manager Grady Little said Ramirez and Damon would be in Philadelphia for Monday’s makeup game with the Phillies.
On Sunday, Kapler took Damon’s spot in center and struggled there in the fifth when New York made it 5-2.
Jeter singled and went to second when Kapler bobbled the ball. Nick Johnson then singled in Jeter. After a double play, Bernie Williams walked and scored when Hideki Matsui’s fly to deep left-center hit off Kapler’s glove for his second error.
The Yankees took a 3-0 lead in the first on RBI singles by Williams, Jorge Posada and Aaron Boone. They came after knuckleballer Tim Wakefield (9-6) hit Johnson with a pitch and walked Giambi after getting 0-2 counts on both.
The Red Sox made it 3-2 in the third after a single by McCarty and a double by Doug Mirabelli put runners at second and third. One run scored on a passed ball charged to Posada. The other came in on Walker’s single.
Bill Mueller singled to center for two runs, making it 8-4, but Varitekflied out.
Wakefield faced Clemens two other times this season—losing on May 21 at Fenway when Clemens won his 299th career game and winning on May 26 at Yankee Stadium. Clemens got his 300th win and 4,000th strikeout June 13 against St. Louis. … The Yankees have the best road record in the majors, 44-24. …Giambi is hitless in his last 20 at-bats after going 0-for-4.