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BoSox Hang On To Beat Bombers


They broke loose for the biggest inning allowed by the New York Yankees in 55 years. They had Pedro Martinez pitching. And still, the Boston Red Sox almost blew it.

The Red Sox scored 11 runs in the third Sunday, then had to rely on a sensational stop by rookie second baseman Lou Merloni to beat the Yankees 13-7.

Down 11-0, the Yankees rallied within 11-7 in the seventh and loaded the bases, bringing the tying run to the plate with no outs against Dennis Eckersley.

"It seemed like a nice day was falling away, going to waste," said Boston first baseman Mo Vaughn, who yelled at his teammates in the dugout following New York's near miss.

After Scott Brosius struck out, pinch-hitter Jorge Posada hit a hard grounder up the middle that easily could have become a two-run single.

Instead, merloni made a dive to his right to backhand the ball, and flipped to shortstop Nomar Garciaparra to start a rally-killing double play.

"You could sense the momentum changing. Everybody could," Merloni said. "We just had to calm it down."

"If he doesn't make that play," Eckersley said, "it turns the game around."

Instead, Boston got a two-run single by Darren Lewis in the ninth and salvaged a split of the four-game series, moving within 7 games of the AL East leaders. The Yankees went 4-3 against the Red Sox in a 10-day period, and they do not meet again until early September.

"It got a little exciting there," Boston manager Jimy Williams said.

Boston sent 16 batters to the plate in its 42-minute scoring frenzy, combining nine hits and three walks -- plus three poor fielding decisions -- against Andy Pettitte and Darren Holmes.

"That's the frustrating part," Pettitte said. "If I had just gone out there and thrown any kind of decent game, we get a win out of it."

Garciaparra, back in the lineup after missing a day because of an ailing shoulder, and Jason Varitek each had a double and single in the majors' biggest inning this season. Garciaparra had three RBIs, and every Red Sox hitter either scored a run or drove in one.

The 11 runs marked the most given up by the Yankees in an inning since July 2, 1943, when they allowed 12 in the fourth at Cleveland. It was the highest-scoring inning for the Red Sox since they got 12 runs in the sixth at Cleveland on Aug. 21, 1986.

Ahead 11-0, Martinez (6-1) and the Red Sox looked safe. Working on a humid, 77-degree afternoon, the Bostn ace had little trouble until Joe Girardi's three-run homer with two outs in the sixth.

That was the final batter for Martinez, who left with an 11-4 lead. After that, it got real interesting for three Red Sox relievers and the crowd of 55,711.

"I got a lead. I almost gave it up, too," Martinez said. "It just didn't work out the way I thought."

Pettitte (6-5), who returned to New York on Saturday after spending a few days in Texas for the birth of his son, continued his perplexing problems.

Pettitte breezed through the first two innings, and struck out Darren Bragg to start the third. But Varitek singled, Lewis walked, John Valentin singled and Garciaparra hit a two-run double.

Second baseman Chuck Knoblauch,center fielder Bernie Williams and third baseman Brosius each made ill-advised choices that let runs score, and Bragg's RBI single finished Pettitte.

Varitek met Holmes with a two-run double for an 8-0 lead. Garciaparra hit an RBI single and Mo Vaughn had a two-run single before, on the 76th pitch of the
inning, Jim Leyritz popped up.

Not since Texas tagged Pettitte for 10 runs in 2 2-3 innings on July 30, 1996, had he been hit so hard.

Notes

  • Williams had four hits, giving him 10 in his last three games.
  • The attendance of 200,244 was the biggest for a four-game series at Yankee Stadium since 215,510 saw Toronto in September 1985.
  • Martinez struck out six, and leads the AL with 102. He won his other start at Yankee Stadium, striking out 10 in a complete game last Aug. 30 for Montreal.
  • Girardi hit his first homer since April 28, 1997, a span of 418 at-bats.

    © 1998 SportsLine USA, Inc. All rights reserved

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