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Yankees Pound Red Sox Again

New York flexes muscles to beat Martinez, 11-1, as Mussina has another sharp outing to put team 41/2 games ahead of Boston.

September 20, 2004|From Associated Press

NEW YORK — The New York Yankees battered Pedro Martinez, chasing Boston out of town with their second rout in a row.

Gary Sheffield, Derek Jeter and Jorge Posada homered against an ineffective Martinez, and Mike Mussina gave the resilient Yankees another excellent outing Sunday as first-place New York opened a 4 1/2 -game lead in the American League East with an 11-1 victory in front of a sellout crowd of 55,142.

"They put us in the rearview mirror a little bit," Red Sox Manager Terry Francona said.

Alex Rodriguez also homered in the second consecutive offensive outburst by the Yankees, who outscored their longtime rivals, 25-5, in two games after losing Friday night, when closer Mariano Rivera blew a ninth-inning lead.

After winning two in the three-game series, the Yankees have some breathing room -- their largest lead over Boston since Aug. 30. New York has 13 games remaining as it pursues its seventh consecutive division title, and the Red Sox play 14 more.

"We just feel like we're the best team in baseball," Sheffield said.

The teams play a three-game series Friday-Sunday at Fenway Park. Boston has a 5 1/2 -game lead over the Angels in the AL wild-card race.

"If we get to the playoffs, believe me, we're not going to be the ones who are scared," Martinez said.

Boston lost its first series since dropping two of three Aug. 13-15 against the Chicago White Sox. The Red Sox also lost consecutive games for only the second time since Aug. 7.

Serenaded with a haunting chant of "Pe-dro, Pe-dro," Martinez (16-7) lasted only five-plus innings and gave up eight runs, matching a season worst. He had pitched at least six innings in 18 consecutive starts since June 2 at Anaheim.

The Boston ace, who couldn't hold a three-run lead in the eighth inning of Game 7 in the 2003 AL championship series at Yankee Stadium, has seven losses for the first time since 1998, his first year with the Red Sox.

Martinez said he had trouble with his grip on a dry, windy day.

"I wasn't actually hitting my targets and made a couple of mistakes. Some of them were good pitches that they hit. Some of the others were just my fault," he said.

Featuring a nasty knuckle-curve, Mussina (12-9) struck out eight, including Jason Varitek three times. The right-hander gave up seven hits in seven innings and won his third consecutive start. He has a 1.20 earned-run average in his last four outings spanning 30 innings.

Varitek was 0 for 10 with eight strikeouts in the series and Manny Ramirez was 0 for 8.

"I stunk. That's all I can say," Varitek said. "We were fortunate to grab one. They swung the bats really well, I give them a lot of credit."

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