One of Boston's most criticized free agent signings went out and stole the spotlight from one who got away.
Jose Offerman tripled to lead off the ninth inning and scored the winning run Saturday to give the Boston Red Sox a 6-5 victory over the New York Yankees, spoiling Roger Clemens' first start at Fenway Park for the Yankees.
Offerman was given a four-year, $26 million contract this winter after Mo Vaughn left, only to lose his starting job this week because of a batting and fielding slump. He reached base all five times up Saturday, getting two hits and three walks to snap a five-week slide in which he batted .184.
The Red Sox let Clemens go as a free agent in 1996 after 13 years in which he won the first three of his five Cy Young Awards and as many games in a Red Sox uniform as Young himself. He went on to win consecutive Cy Youngs with Toronto.
In 1997, in his first trip to Fenway with the Blue Jays, Clemens struck out 16 in eight innings to win over the initially divided Fenway crowd. There was no such conversion on Saturday, as Clemens was booed from his introduction until he left with one on nobody out in the sixth.
This time, he failed to record a single 1-2-3 inning while allowing four runs and five hits in five-plus innings. He struck out three and left with a 5-3 lead before Boston came back to win the game against the Yankees' bullpen.
"I'm sure he was a little more pumped up," Yankees pitching coach Mel Stottlemyre said. "It never looked like he got the same groove going."
|John Valentin drives in three runs for the Red Sox, including the winning run in the ninth. (AP)|
Clemens, who was also booed when he took the field in a Yankees cap during All-Star game ceremonies to honor baseball's best players, claimed not to hear the crowd on Saturday. He also said it was just another game for him.
"It's not a big deal," he said. "I've been with the Yankees for a while."
Offerman hit a line drive deep to center field for a standup triple off Ramiro Mendoza (4-7) in the ninth. He scored when John Valentin lifted a fly ball down the left-field line and Shane Spencer let it drop in for a single, knowing he couldn't throw Offerman out if he had caught it.
"As far as I know, it was going to be foul," Spencer said. "You see how deep you are, and let it drop. It fell on the chalk."
Derek Lowe (2-2) earned the victory with two innings of scoreless relief.
Chuck Knoblauch went 3-for-5, giving him eight hits in 11 at-bats in the last two games, and he homered to start the game for the second consecutive day. One out later, Paul O'Neill homered to make it 2-0 after one the second day in a row that the Yankees got two home runs in the first inning.
Nomar Garciaparra singled to lead off the fifth, then Troy O'Leary and Butch Huskey singled off Jason Grimsley to load the bases. Jason Varitek followed with a grounder up the middle that was grabbed by shortstop Derek Jeter, who flipped it to second for the force out.
One run scored to make it 5-4, but the play saved a second run. Still, Boston tied it in the seventh when Offerman drew one-out walk and scored on John Valentin's double.
The Red Sox tied it in the third on Trot Nixon's homer and Valentin's sacrifice fly. But the Yankees made it 4-2 with four straight hits to lead off the fourth inning, and made it 5-2 on Tino Martinez's sacrifice fly in the fifth.
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