Yankees 4, Red Sox 2

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NEW YORK (AP)—Eighteen years later, a grounder to first base did in the Boston Red Sox again.

This New York setting was far less dramatic than when Bill Buckner made his infamous error in Game 6 of the 1986 World Series, but the play was eerily similar.

David Ortiz made a key error that allowed New York to tie game in the seventh inning, and Gary Sheffield’s RBI double in the eighth sent the New York Yankees to a 4-2 victory over the Red Sox on Wednesday night.

“That kind of stuff seems to happen a lot to us, especially when we’re playing the Yankees,” Johnny Damon said. “Every single loss is just magnified right now.”

The Yankees have won the first two matchups of the three-game series to open a season-high 7 1/2 -game lead over Boston in the AL East. They’ll go for a sweep Thursday night against Pedro Martinez.

Making his first appearance at Yankee Stadium since giving up Aaron Boone’s pennant-winning homer in Game 7 of the AL championship series last year, Tim Wakefield shut down the Yankees on three hits for 6 1-3 innings.

After a walk and a hit batsman, he left with a 2-0 lead—but the worst defense in the major leagues let him down.

“In the seventh inning, the wheels kind of fell off,” Wakefield said.

Scott Williamson replaced Wakefield with runners at the corners, then departed with the bases loaded and two outs because of a strained right forearm.

Tony Clark hit a sharp grounder off Mike Timlin (4-3) right at Ortiz, the designated hitter in Boston’s original lineup. He was switched to first base before the first pitch because Trot Nixon had a tight quadriceps and moved from right field to DH.

Thinking the inning was over when the ball was hit, Wakefield began to applaud in the dugout.

Then the ball squirted through Ortiz into shallow right field for an error that allowed two runs to score, and the 37-year-old knuckleballer just stared quietly straight ahead.

After the play, Ortiz headed toward the dugout for a new glove because the ball had slipped right through the webbing of the other one.

“I thought I had it. I was starting to go to first base, and I saw the ball missing. My glove was kind of soft. Maybe that’s why it went through,” Ortiz said. “We should’ve won the game.”

Eighteen years earlier across town at Shea Stadium, it was Buckner who allowed Mookie Wilson’s 10th-inning grounder to go through his legs, giving the Mets a 6-5 win. Two nights later, New York won the World Series, keeping Boston without a title since 1918, a streak that endures.

This time, it took a little longer for Boston’s loss to be sealed.

Kenny Lofton led off the eighth with an infield single and went to second when shortstop Nomar Garciaparra threw wildly for his third error in two games.

Derek Jeter sacrificed Lofton to third, and he scored when Sheffield doubled down the third-base line on the 10th pitch of his at-bat against Timlin. Sheffield, playing with an aching shoulder, fouled off seven 0-2 pitches.

“It was just one of those battles,” he said. “It seemed like we wanted it a little bit more.”

Hideki Matsui added a two-out RBI single off Alan Embree, making it 4-2.

Yankees reliever Felix Heredia got the crowd into it in the seventh, escaping a bases-loaded, none-out jam by striking out Ortiz.

“I think that was his best moment as a Yankee,” Alex Rodriguez said.

Tom Gordon (2-2) struck out two in a perfect eighth for the win, and Mariano Rivera pitched the ninth for his 29th save in 30 chances.

The Red Sox, who made three errors in an 11-3 loss Tuesday night, have allowed 60 unearned runs, the most in the majors. Boston has lost seven of 10 and is 13-17 in its last 30 games.

“We had them where we wanted them,” said an emotional Terry Francona, Boston’s manager. “We had our chances to extend the lead. This is a tough one. It hurts.”

Jon Lieber got his introduction to the Yankees-Red Sox rivalry, keeping New York in the game for six-plus innings. The Yankees rallied for their fourth straight win and fifth in six games. It was their 30th comeback victory of the season.

“We just showed we can beat ‘em both kinds of ways,” Sheffield said.

Ortiz had an RBI single in the first. Then he hit Lieber’s first pitch of the sixth over the right-center fence for his AL-leading 21st homer. He also tops the league with 75 RBIs.

“We had them up against the ropes,” Damon said. “This was our game to win. But we’re finding ways to lose. We’ve got no luck, we’re not playing greatdefense.”


Yankees 1B Jason Giambi was out of the lineup for the fourth consecutive game because of an intestinal parasite. Clark started in his place again. … Lofton stole two bases for the Yankees but was caught trying to steal third with two outs and Rodriguez at the plate in the first. … Boston signed RHP Pedro Astacio to a minor league contract. … The Red Sox dropped to 17-20 on the road. … Yankees RHP Orlando Hernandez struck out six in 6 1-3 innings, allowing one run, four hits and one walk in second Triple-A rehabilitation start, a 9-1 win for Columbus over Syracuse in the InternationalLeague. He is 1-1.

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