BOSTON (AP)—The revived Red Sox are playing with such intensity that even John Kerry offered a high-five.
The Democratic presidential candidate cheered from a seat next to the Boston dugout Sunday night and slapped hands with Kevin Millar after the first baseman’s fifth-inning homer during Red Sox’s 9-6 win over the New York Yankees.
“He was fired up,” Millar said. “I was just high-fiving the fans and his hand was the last one.”
The Red Sox gave their fans plenty to cheer in the last two games of the series with the Yankees, who were threatening to run away with the AL East title. Boston fell a season-high 9 1/2 games behind after an 8-7 loss Friday, then cut that to 7 1/2 with an 11-10 win Saturday and Sunday’s victory.
“We got the feeling back last night,” Millar said. “We had to get that swagger back that we had last year.”
Kerry, who threw out the ceremonial first pitch, left after the eighth inning.
“It was a World Series atmosphere,” said Johnny Damon, who went 3-for-5 with a three-run homer. “The fans across America got to see the greatest rivalry in sports.”
Millar went 10-for-13 in the series with four homers and eight RBIs after hitting six homers with 24 RBIs in 87 games. He attributed that to a change in his stance he made in Wednesday’s home game against Baltimore that allowed him to pull the ball better.
“It’s all feel,” he said after raising his batting average to .297. “Now I feel good.”
The win came one day after a bench-clearing brawl.
“Maybe that’s something we needed,” Damon said. “We do have a little more fire in us.”
Derek Lowe (9-9) pitched one of his best games in a subpar season, helping the Red Sox improve to 8-5 in the season series with six games remaining.
“They gained a game on us, but we can’t worry about what they’re doing,” Derek Jeter said.
Jose Contreras (8-4) struggled again against the Red Sox, allowing eight runs in 5 1-3 innings. Contreras is 0-4 in five career appearances against the Red Sox since the Yankees outbid Boston for him before last season.
“He wasn’t good right from the get-go,” Yankees manager Joe Torre said. “We had a two-run lead and he just wasn’t aggressive enough.”
“The rule doesn’t make much sense,” Jeter said. “The home-plate umpire said that I got hit when I was lunging for the bag. The bag is not in the lane you’re supposed to run in.”
Foulke, who gave up the winning run in the ninth inning Friday, then got three outs for his 16th save in 21 chances.
Asked before the game if Saturday’s brawl involving New York’s Alex Rodriguez and Boston catcher Jason Varitek reminded him of politicians’ behavior, Kerry said with a smile, “Don’t we do that every day?”
Rodriguez and Varitek were ejected after A-Rod was hit by a pitch by Bronson Arroyo in the third inning. After what Varitek said were some “choice words,” the catcher pushed Rodriguez in the face, bringing both teams out of their dugouts. Outfielders Gabe Kapler of Boston and Kenny Lofton of New York also were ejected.
Varitek was out of the lineup Sunday with a sore right wrist, an injury he thinks he might have gotten during the fight. He said he could have played if necessary.
There were three hit batsmen Sunday, New York’s Jorge Posada in the first and Boston’s Mirabelli and Millar in the second.
After Millar was hit, Wendelstedt warned Contreras and both dugouts then talked with Torre near the plate. All three runners went to first base without incident.
The Yankees led 2-0 in the first on Sheffield’s RBI single and Matsui’s sacrifice fly. The Red Sox tied it in the bottom half on Millar’s two-run single.
Boston made it 6-2 in the second, scoring four runs with no outs. Mirabelli was hit by a pitch, Kapler singled, Damon hit his 13th homer of the year off the right-field pole and Mark Bellhorn hit his 12th.
Millar, who had three homers Friday, hit his 11th in the fifth and Boston made it 9-2 in the sixth on David Ortiz’s RBI double and Millar’s run-scoring single.
Kerry was among at least five U.S. senators at the game and sat next to former Sen. John Glenn. … New England Patriots coach Bill Belichick also attended. … Contreras allowed eight earned runs in 5 1-3 innings after giving up three in his previous 21 2-3. … Lowe allowed two unearned runs, giving him a major league-high 23 this season.