Yankees 6, Red Sox 4
BOSTON (AP)—Those Red Sox managers just never learn.
With an eerie resemblance to last year’s postseason debacle, Pedro Martinez took a lead into the eighth inning before tiring and the New York Yankees rallied past Boston 6-4 Friday night to open a 5 1/2 -game advantage in the AL East.
“It had a lot of similarities to the playoff game last year,” Yankees starter Mike Mussina said. “History tends to repeat itself—but usually not that quickly.”
Grady Little was the Red Sox manager last fall when he left Martinez in during the eighth inning of Game 7 in the AL championship series; the Yankees overcame a 5-2 deficit to tie it and earned a World Series berth when Aaron Boone homered in the 11th.
Little was let go after the season and replaced by Terry Francona. But Francona, much as his predecessor did, sent Martinez (16-8) back out for the eighth even though he needed 101 pitches to get through the first seven innings; the Boston fans let Francona hear about it on Friday, much as they did for his predecessor.
Hideki Matsui homered on pitch No. 103 to make it 4-4, and Bernie Williams followed with a ground-rule double. Martinez struck out Jorge Posada, who hit the game-tying double off the Red Sox ace in the ALCS, but Ruben Sierra singled home the go-ahead run and—finally—chased Martinez.
“If I run out there after two pitches … it would make it look like I wasn’t making a very good decision before the inning,” Francona said. “We put a lot of thought into what we’re doing. I was disappointed it was a tie game instead of having a one-run lead, but two pitches into the inning he’s still, in my opinion, he’s OK.”
Manny Ramirez hit his AL-leading 42nd homer and Trot Nixon also connected for Boston, which had been hoping to close ground on the Yankees but now needs to win the final two games of the series to have any realistic hope of winning the division.
If not, the Red Sox are comfortably in the lead for the AL wild-card spot. They are six games ahead of Anaheim and Texas.
“What can I say—just tip my hat and call the Yankees my daddy,” Martinez said. “I can’t find a way to beat them at this point. … They’re that good. They’re that hot right now—at least against me. I wish they would disappear and not come back.”
Martinez tried to deflect the blame from his manager, just as he did last October.
“It’s just frustrating for me not to do the job,” he said. “It was all me. I wanted to bury myself on that mound.”
Matsui added an RBI double in the ninth—his third hit of the game.
Tom Gordon (8-4) pitched two innings and allowed a solo homer to Johnny Damon that gave Boston a 4-3 lead. Mariano Rivera pitched the ninth for his 51st save; he has blown four saves all season, two against the Red Sox.
Martinez had one consolation: he improved on Sunday’s outing, an 11-1 loss to the Yankees in which he allowed eight runs in five-plus innings. On Friday, he allowed five runs on nine hits and two walks, striking out five in 7 1-3 innings to lose his third consecutive start for the first time since 1998; the eight losses are his most since he was with Montreal in 1997, a year in which he won the NL Cy Young Award.
The Yankees scored twice in the third. Miguel Cairo was hit by a pitch to lead off the inning and stole second base. One out later, Alex Rodriguez singled and went to second when Nixon’s throw from right field to second base got by shortstop Orlando Cabrera.
Rodriguez stole third and scored on Gary Sheffield’s base hit to make it 2-0.
After Mark Bellhorn walked in the bottom half, Ramirez tied it with one swing, hitting Mussina’s first pitch high over the Green Monster. Boston took a 3-2 lead on Nixon’s solo homer in the fourth, but the Yankees tied it in the sixth.
Matsui walked and Williams hit a line drive to center that he stretched into a double. Posada hit a blooper to right that Nixon caught on a dive, spinning to make a throw home and hold the runners at second and third.
But Sierra hit a deeper drive to right that scored Matsui easily.
Ramirez and David Ortiz (40) have tied the record for homers by Red Sox teammates with 82. Ted Williams hit 43 in 1949 and Vern Stephens hit 39. … Martinez made his 200th start with the Red Sox. … Mussina allowed three runs and five hits in six innings. … Jason Varitek is 4-for-44 in his career against Mussina. … Damon’s 18 homers ties his career high. … Bernie Williams hit career doubles No. 400 and 401.