Daisuke Matsuzaka overcame control problems to defeat the Yankees for the second time in six days, and Kevin Youkilis and Julio Lugo homered. With a come-from-behind 11-4 victory over Andy Pettitte on Friday night, Boston improved to 4-0 against its longtime rival this season.
“Things can turn around at a moment’s notice,” said Kevin Youkilis, whose two-run homer started Boston’s outburst. “We can’t really worry about what they’re doing. We have to do what we do best and hope that we keep winning.”
New York (8-13), whose April began to unravel with three straight losses at Fenway Park last weekend, has lost seven consecutive games for the first time since the last week of the 2000 season. The Yankees are a $195 million last-place team, 6 1/2 games back of the division-leading Red Sox.
Yankees captain Derek Jeter said it was too early to panic.
“This is when you find out how good a team is,” he said. “Things are going your way, it’s easy to say: `Oh, this team is good. They just won 10 in a row.’ This is when you find out about teams. We’ll see how good we are.”
Yankees owner George Steinbrenner hasn’t commented on the slide.
“He won’t say anything tonight. We’ll see if he has anything to say tomorrow,” spokesman Howard Rubenstein said.
It’s come to this for New York: Mariano Rivera, who doesn’t have a save this season, was sent in to get some work in the ninth and allowed four of five batters to reach. He gave up four runs and got just one out, raising his ERA to 12.15.
“I’m missing up. I’m missing down. I’m missing everywhere,” he said.
Given a 4-2 lead after the Yankees scored four in the fourth, Pettitte (1-1) immediately gave it back, forcing in the tying run with a bases-loaded walk and allowing the go-ahead run to score on a wild pitch.
“It’s as frustrating as you can get. It’s embarrassing is what it is,” Pettitte said. “It’s a joke that I can’t go out there and get through six or seven innings right there when the team needs me to do that as bad as they do.”
Pettitte allowed five runs, six hits and five walks in 4 2-3 innings, making it 11 times in 21 games that New York’s starters failed to pitch five innings.
“We’re just not a good baseball team right now,” Jason Giambi said. “We just need to somehow get in synch.”
Matsuzaka (3-2) beat New York 7-6 in Boston last Sunday to complete the sweep. Making his first appearance at Yankee Stadium, Dice-K wasn’t particularly sharp but he got the job done. He gave up four runs and five hits in six innings, striking out seven.
“After my teammates rallied back to score some runs, I just wanted to live up to my end,” he said through a translator.
Jeter returned to the Yankees’ lineup after sitting out Thursday with a thigh injury and had three of New York’s seven hits. Coco Crisp was in Boston’s lineup after missing five starts with abdominal tightness and went 2-for-5 with an RBI single in the ninth.
Youkilis’ third-inning homer gave Boston the lead, but the Yankees stopped their scoreless streak at 13 innings in the fourth after Matsuzaka loaded the bases on three walks with none out. Jorge Posada blooped an opposite-field single in front of a sliding Manny Ramirez in left, and Johnny Damon hit a soft single on a 3-2 pitch with two outs, a ball that dropped in front of right fielder J.D. Drew. Jeter hit a pitch off the end of his bat past a diving Youkilis at first for a 4-2 lead.
Matsuzaka needed 42 pitches to get through three innings, but threw 41 in the fourth.
“If I got into all the things that happened in the fourth inning, it would be a very long story,” Matsuzaka said. “So to keep a long story short, I think there are technically a few things I need to work on.”
Then it was Pettitte’s turn to lose control.
Lugo, who had three hits, three RBIs and three runs, walked with one out in the fifth and came home on David Ortiz’s single. Ramirez walked to load the bases and, after Drew struck out, Pettitte forced in the tying run with a walk to Mike Lowell.
With a 1-1 count on Jason Varitek, Pettitte bounced a wild pitch that hit the glove of Posada and rolled under the catcher as Ortiz came in with the go-ahead run. After Pettitte reloaded the bases with a walk to Varitek, Scott Proctor relieved and got Crisp to fly out on his first pitch.
Lugo homered off Proctor for a 6-4 lead in the sixth. He had not homered in 240 at-bats since July 22 against Baltimore, when he connected twice in Tampa Bay’s 10-run fifth inning.
“It’s good for us to beat them,” he said.
Boston LHP Jon Lester allowed three walks in five shutout innings for Triple-A Pawtucket against Buffalo in what was expected to be his second-to-last rehab outing before he returns to the Boston rotation. Coming back from chemotherapy to treat cancer of the lymph system, Lester was 0-0 with a 2.98 ERA in three appearances with Class-A Greenville. … Bobby Abreu was 0-for-5 with two strikeouts and a double-play grounder and is in a 1-for-23 slide. … Giambi will start at 1B on Saturday against Tim Wakefield.