Beckett’s 19th win gives Red Sox 10-1 victory and 5 1/2 -game lead over Yankees

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BOSTON (AP)—Josh Beckett and Eric Hinske pushed back at the surging New York Yankees and tightened Boston’s grip on the AL East.

Beckett became the first 19-game winner in the majors and Hinske provided the muscle, bowling over Jorge Posada in a home-plate collision to help the Red Sox rout New York 10-1 Saturday and open 5 1/2 -game lead with two weeks and a day to play.

Boston lowered its magic number to nine to end New York’s nine-year stranglehold on the division title.

“We needed a bounce-back day,” Red Sox manager Terry Francona said. “It was nice to play with a lead. It was nice to play with a bigger lead.”

One game after New York rallied from a 7-2 deficit Friday to beat Boston for the fifth straight time, Hinske energized the Red Sox when he knocked over the Yankees catcher in a three-run sixth. Hinske was out, but Jacoby Ellsbury followed with an RBI single and David Ortiz hit a two-run double to make it 5-1 and chase Chien-Ming Wang (18-7).

“Last night was a tough loss for us. You never want to lose momentum in September in a pennant race,” said Hinske, who checked on Posada’s condition before his next at-bat. “I think that might have psyched the team up, because we scored some runs after that.”

Hinske added a solo homer in the eighth as Boston eliminated any hope of another comeback.

For the game, and probably the season.

“Things are looking different right now,” said Ortiz, who went 3-for-3. But he also said: “It’s not over yet. You saw what happened last night. We can’t let those guys catch us sleeping ‘cause they can turn things around in a hurry.”

In a tense and physical game that left two players needing X-rays and also featured a couple more hit batters, Beckett (19-6) pitched seven innings of three-hit ball, allowing one run and a walk while striking out seven to win his third straight start. He already has a career-high for victories and could have three more tries to reach 20 wins.

Wang, who had won his previous five starts, allowed five runs, nine hits and three walks in 5 2-3 innings.

“It wasn’t one of his best days. What can I say?” said Yankees manager Joe Torre, who used five pitchers to get through the seventh inning, when the Red Sox added four more runs.

Derek Jeter homered in the first for the Yankees, whose wild-card lead over Detroit was cut to 2 1/2 games. Curt Schilling will face Roger Clemens in the series finale on Sunday night.

“Both teams are definitely hungry, and both teams definitely want to win the division,” Yankees outfielder Johnny Damon said. “Obviously, tomorrow is crucial to us.”

Boston led 2-1 when Hinske led off the sixth with a double, then Coco Crisp singled him to third. Dustin Pedroia grounded the ball to second, and Robinson Cano came home with it; Posada caught the ball a split second before Hinske barreled him over and held onto it.

Even though he was out, Hinske received a standing ovation from the fans on the first-base side when he returned to the dugout. Torre and the Yankees trainer ran out to check on Posada, who stayed in the game but went to a hospital after it for precautionary reasons.

“Jorgie’s a little beat up,” Torre said. “He’s got a headache pretty good. Hopefully he’ll be all right tomorrow.”

Ellsbury singled to score Crisp for a 3-1 lead before Ortiz hit a liner into the right-center gap. Pedroia scored easily, and Ellsbury burned around the bases, heading for another play at the plate.

The throw again got there ahead of the runner, but Posada appeared to brace for the collision instead of tagging the runner, and Ellsbury slid under the catcher’s mitt.

Ellsbury entered the game as a replacement for Kevin Youkilis, who left with a bruised right wrist after Wang hit him with a pitch. X-rays were negative.

Youkilis has already been at the center of two brushback wars with the Yankees this year, one of them last month when rookie Joba Chamberlain threw two pitches above his head at Yankee Stadium. In June, Youkilis approached the mound after being hit in the head by Scott Proctor—the fifth hit batter of that game.

The Red Sox did not complain about Wang’s pitch, which came with the bases loaded and one out in the fifth inning of a 1-1 game. More suspicious was Beckett’s first pitch to Jason Giambi in the seventh, which hit him near the right elbow. Plate umpire Gary Cedarstrom immediately warned Beckett and both managers.

Beckett wasn’t concerned tempers would boil over.

“I think everybody was just trying to grind it out,” he said. “We’re playing against a tough team, and I think they’ll say the same thing. That’s why our games usually last between 12 and 13 hours a day.”

Notes

Boston took 16 consecutive pitches in the third, drawing three walks before Jason Varitek fouled off a Wang offering. … Wang walked three batters in an inning for fifth time in his career. … According to the Elias Sports Bureau, it was the first time that two pitchers sharing the major league lead in wins in September have faced each other since New York’s David Cone met Boston’s Pedro Martinez on Sept. 8, 1998; Cone won 3-2. … Mike Timlin made his 1,006th career appearance, moving past Mike Jackson into sole possession of 11th place.

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