Yankees 6, Red Sox 3

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NEW YORK (AP)—With the Boston Red Sox back in town, Gary Sheffield, Robinson Cano and Tony Womack put on an impressive show.

Cano and Womack threw out runners at the plate in the sixth inning to keep Boston from building a big lead, and Cano and Sheffield hit impressive home runs during a five-run rally in the bottom half, leading the New York Yankees to a 6-3 victory Friday night.

“A big game,” said Sheffield, whose tiebreaking, three-run drive wound up in the first row of the rarely reached left-field upper deck.

Randy Johnson (5-3) won despite another perplexing start. He tinkered with his mechanics and regained a fastball that topped out at 97 mph. But he struck out just three and allowed hits to his final five batters. Boston managed only one run in the sixth inning due to his defense.

“It changed the complexion of the ballgame,” Johnson said.

Mariano Rivera, who had blown his first two save attempts of the year against Boston, got two outs for his 12th save in 14 chances. He failed in his first two opportunities of the season against the Red Sox, both on the opening homestand, but has converted two in a row against Boston.

New York, 11-19 three weeks ago following its worst start since 1966, has won 16 of its last 18, including nine straight at home. The Yankees are second in the AL East, 3 1/2 games behind Baltimore.

Boston, meanwhile, has lost four straight and fallen five games back of the Orioles.

Red Sox manager Terry Francona missed the World Series champions’ previous game at Yankee Stadium on April 6 when he was rushed to the hospital. He joked about it Friday afternoon, calling it a “fake heart attack,” but Boston then provided little to smile about.

Tim Wakefield (4-4) walked seven, his highest total in eight years, and the Red Sox, who outhit the Yankees 11-7, went 0-for-9 with runners in scoring position during the first five innings.

“We just didn’t get that knockout punch,” Kevin Millar said.

Jason Varitek opened the scoring when he reached down for a slider in the fifth inning and hit a two-run homer. Derek Jeter tripled and scored on Womack’s groundout in the bottom half to make it 2-1.

Jay Payton then doubled over Womack with one out in the sixth, took third on Mark Bellhorn’s single and scored on Johnny Damon’s single, which ended an 0-for-15 slide and put the Red Sox ahead 3-1.

Edgar Renteria singled sharply to left, and Womack made a strong one-hop throw to catcher Jorge Posada, who let Bellhorn slide into his glove for the tag. David Ortiz followed with a grounder toward the right side of second base, and it rolled off Cano’s glove into the outfield. The rookie quickly picked it up and made a one-hop throw to Posada, who tagged Damon in a mirror image play at the plate.

“The momentum swing changed,” Damon said. “When you make good plays defensively, it lifts the team.”

Bernie Williams led off the bottom half with a walk, and Cano hit a fastball for his second career homer in 75 at-bats, a drive into the right-center field bleachers. As he rounded first, Cano pumped a fist twice, and he circled the bases so fast he nearly caught up to Williams.

“I said, `Come on, Bernie,”’ Yankees manager Joe Torre recounted. “Bernie is used to it, he’s not.”

Jeter then singled, left-hander Alan Embree relieved and Womack dumped a single into left after failing to get a bunt down. Sheffield, hitting .413 against lefties, crushed an 0-1 fastball, quite a different experience than his whiff and two walks against Wakefield.

“I have no clue how to hit a knuckleball,” Sheffield said. “I’d rather face anybody than him.”

Johnson allowed three runs and nine hits in six innings and has just eight strikeouts in his last three starts. But he was pleased with his progress.

“As long as I’ve got some air in my lungs, don’t count me out,” he said.


Plate umpire Bruce Froemming took a foul ball off a wrist while Bellhorn was batting in the fourth. Froemming’s wrist was wrapped during the middle of the inning and he stayed in the game. … It was the most walks for Wakefield since June 30, 1997, against Florida, and three shy of his career high. … Boston, which stranded 13 runners, has lost eight of 10 road games. … Sheffield is 2-for-7 against Embree, both homers. … Boston managed just two singles and two walks against Tanyon Sturtze, Buddy Groom, Tom Gordon and Rivera. … Wakefield, who had been 3-0 with a 1.34 ERA in his previous six regular-season starts against New York, gave up four runs and four hits in five-plus innings. … Embree has allowed six homers in 21 1-3 innings.

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