Monday, June 04, 2007
A-Rod gets last laugh
YANKEES 6, RED SOX 5
Saves best for last with HR off Papelbon in 9th; Mo closes it out
BY KAT O'BRIEN
June 4, 2007
BOSTON -- Alex Rodriguez found a way to silence the Red Sox fans who booed him relentlessly all weekend: He ripped a home run off stud closer Jonathan Papelbon on an 0-and-2 pitch with two out in the ninth inning last night to give the Yankees a 6-5 win.
The Fenway fans had been merciless to Rodriguez, the subject of multiple controversies in the past week. Earlier last night, he had popped up with runners on first and third and one out. But this time he hit a line drive into the Yankees' bullpen in right-center off Papelbon, his 20th homer in exactly one-third of a season. "It's got to take some of the sting out of it," manager Joe Torre said. "Obviously, when you're dealing with a personal issue, it's more than a game."
The Yankees moved to within 12 1/2 games of the Red Sox, having beaten them for the fourth time in the last six games against Boston. "I think it's important what we do after this," A-Rod said. "Today was good, but we've got to back it up."
The Yankees also got good news about Andy Pettitte, who left the game in the fifth inning with what had seemed to be an injury. It turned out to be back spasms. "He anticipates making his next start,' Torre said. "It was just a catch in his back."
Joe Torre pats Andy Pettitte on the back as he takes him out of the game in the fifth inning.
Said Pettitte, who screamed in apparent pain while completing a delivery on which he struck out Julio Lugo in the fifth, "I had a little bit of a something going on in my lower back. I feel good. We got a win. I feel like I should be able to make it [his next start]."
Trainers rushed out to the mound, yet Pettitte remained in to face two more hitters - Dustin Pedroia, who doubled home three runs, and David Ortiz, who singled home Pedroia to tie the score at 4. Abreu missed Ortiz's liner as he tried to scoop the in-between hop, the ball rolled to the wall, Abreu was charged with a two-base error and Ortiz wound up at third. He then scored the go-ahead run on Kevin Youkilis' sacrifice fly off Luis Vizcaino, making it 5-4.
In the top of the eighth, the Yankees evened the score at 5. Hideki Matsui led off with a single to rightfield off Hideki Okajima and Robinson Cano belted a triple to center to drive in Matsui. But Okajima struck out Josh Phelps and got Melky Cabrera on a grounder to third and Johnny Damon on a grounder to first.
Robinson Cano triples in the 8th inning.
After Rodriguez put the Yankees ahead in the ninth, Mariano Rivera faced the heart of the Red Sox order in the bottom of the inning. Ortiz scared the Yankees with a long line drive to right that was caught by Abreu, Manny Ramirez struck out, Youkilis was hit by a pitch and Mike Lowell struck out swinging to end it.
"Coming in to face that part of the batting order, you know it's not going to be a yawn, 1-2-3 type of inning," Torre said. "He was pretty determined out there."
Abreu made up for his error by making a seemingly impossible catch in a driving rain to hold the score at 5-5 in the eighth. The Sox had runners on first and second and two out when Pedroia ripped a ball deep into the gap in right-centerfield. Abreu sped back and backhanded the ball below his waist as he continued to run in the other direction, nearly falling in the process.
Bobby Abreu makes a great catch running away from the ball.
Cabrera made a nice running catch in the third, and with two out and Lugo on first in the sixth, the Yankees made another sparkling play. Pedroia doubled to leftfield, but the relay from Matsui to Derek Jeter to Jorge Posada nailed Lugo at the plate, with Posada leaping for Jeter's throw and coming down with a foot in perfect position to prevent Lugo from touching the plate.
In the half-inning before Pettitte's exit, the Yankees had slapped three runs on the board against Red Sox starter Josh Beckett, who entered the game with an 8-0 record.
With two outs and the bases loaded for Rodriguez, he hit a bouncer to third base that would have been an RBI infield single, and when Lowell's throw to first couldn't be scooped by Youkilis, another run scored. Posada then singled to make it 4-0. Phelps had an RBI single in the second.
This is the big three?
Mike Mussina pitching against Boston this past weekend.
The reason Joe Torre gave for not starting Roger Clemens at Fenway Park was that his big three of Chien-Ming Wang, Mike Mussina and Andy Pettitte were scheduled to pitch. But the three combined for a 7.80 ERA in the series, with Mussina allowing back-to-back homers in the sixth to erase a 5-3 lead Saturday and Pettitte giving up five runs in the fifth to wipe out a 4-0 lead last night. How they fared:
IP H R ER BB K
Wang (W) 5 2/3 10 3 3 2 1
Mussina (ND) 5 9 5 5 4 1
Pettitte(ND) 4 1/3 7 5 5 1 3
Totals 15 26 13 13 7 5