Taking advantage of Buckner's curse as much as the Bambino's, the New York Yankees not only took a 3-1 lead in the AL Championship Series, they caused the Fenway Park fans to embarrass themselves.
Pitcher Bret Saberhagen's bungled throw allowed the go-ahead run to score in the fourth inning, and the Boston Red Sox made three other errors before Ricky Ledee's ninth-inning grand slam as New York won 9-2 Sunday night.
Without Pedro Martinez, who threw seven shutout innings Saturday in Boston's record 13-1 rout, the Red Sox went back to their old, bumbling, ways. Their frustrated fans turned angry, delaying the game for eight minutes in the ninth inning by throwing bottles after Red Sox manager Jimy Williams was ejected for arguing a close play.
With New York clinging to a 3-2 lead in the eighth, a second-base umpire blew a key call for the second time in the best-of-7 series.
And after a close call at first base went against the Red Sox opening the ninth, Yankees players went back to their dugout while an announcement was made of a possible forfeit.
"It's quite regrettable. I'm sorry it happened," Yankees owner George Steinbrenner said. "The excitement level is pretty tremendous. We've been treated beautifully by Boston up to this point."
Williams and the other Red Sox refused to go to the interview room fter the defeat.
"He really incited it," Steinbrenner said.
Yankees reliever Jeff Nelson got involved in a shouting match with a Red Sox security official, and Yankees wives were escorted from the ballpark by police. Torre called it a "show of absolutely no class whatsoever."
"We're sorry for the way we acted," Boston's Mike Stanley said. "That's not right, not right at all."
Andy Pettitte allowed two runs and seven hits over 7 1-3 innings, improving to 2-0 in the postseason and again showing why Torre insisted he not be traded.
"It was a huge win for us, especially after last night," Pettitte said. "Let's hope we can close this out tomorrow."
The Yankees try to wrap up their record 36th AL pennant on Monday night, when Orlando Hernandez pitches against Boston's Kent Mercker in a rematch of Game 1 starters.
Mariano Rivera, who got the win in Game 1 and the save in Game 2, relieved after Jose Offerman reached on an infield hit with one out in the eighth Chuck Knoblauch fumbled the hard-hit grounder to second, then threw wide of first base.
But second-base umpire Tim Tschida called Offerman out, thinking he was tagged.
"I didn't make the right call," Tschida said. "It appeared to me as though he got him."
In the series opener, second-base umpire Rick Reed failed to call Knoblauch for dropping a throw, when the correct call would have given Boston two on and no outs in the eighth inning with the score tied. Williams' 10th-inning homer won it.
"It feels like their taking it away from us," Boston's Darren Lewis said.
After that, the Yankees broke it open in the ninth. Offerman's throwing error allowed Knoblauch to score from third and Williams followed with an RBI single off Rich Garces for a 5-2 lead. Ledee then homered off Rod Beck.
The game was delayed in the bottom half after first-base umpire Dale Scott called Nomar Garciaparra out at first on a grounder to third. Williams threw his cap during the argument with Scott that led to his ejectio.
|Jimy Williams kicks dirt in frustration after bad calls from the umpires throughout the game.|
After falling behind 1-0 on Darryl Strawberry's second-inning homer a drive off the screen attached to the Pesky Pole down the right-field line the Red Sox tied it in the bottom half on Troy O'Leary's RBI single and went ahead on Offerman's run-scoring single in the third.
But the Yankees' turnaround started with the next batter. John Valentin doubled off the Green Monster in left, and center fielder Bernie Williams made a quick relay throw to Derek Jeter, who threw out Offerman at the plate.
Williams reached on an infield single with one out in the bottom half, and took second when Garciaparra's throw from shortstop bounced into the Boston dugout his fourth error of the series.
Tino Martinez followed with a game-tying double to right-center, with the 2-2 score on the old manual scoreboard in the Green Monster matching the 2-2 score of the NLCS game, then in the 14th inning.
He hit an easy grounder to Stanley at first, who made the throw to Saberhagen, covering the bag with plenty of time to spare.
But as Saberhagen stepped on the base while trying to catch the throw, the ball popped out of his glove and fell to the field, allowing Martinez to score from second.
"I was looking down at the bag," Saberhagen said. "I didn't watch it all the way in."
Thirteen years ago, the Red Sox lost Game 6 of the World Series to the Mets at Shea Stadium when first baseman Bill Buckner allowed Mookie Wilson's 10th-inning grounder to roll through his legs. That, as much as the trade of Babe Ruth to the Yankees in 1920, has become a symbol of Boston's failure to win the World Series since 1918.
Pettitte had his own slump during the first four months of this season, ging just 12-9. But Torre told Steinbrenner to keep Pettitte because he could pitch under postseason pressure, and Pettitte proved his manager right.
The electric atmosphere of Saturday when fans joyously taunted Roger Clemens wasn't at Fenway for Sunday's game.
Strawberry quieted the crowd early with his second home run of the postseason. Just as he was batting, fans were chanting "Just Say No!" a reference to his past problems with drugs and alcohol.
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