Red Sox move into a series tie with Yankees
Tuesday, October 14, 2003
BOSTON -- No beanballs or brawls, just a dynamite knuckler by Tim Wakefield that gave the New York Yankees fits and allowed the Boston Red Sox to knot the AL championship series.
Wakefield struck out eight over seven-plus innings, and Todd Walker and Trot Nixon backed him with solo homers, leading Boston over New York 3-2 Monday night to tie the best-of-seven series at two games apiece.
After a one-day break caused by a rainout, there was none of the fighting that marred Game 3 Saturday. Wakefield beat Mike Mussina for the second time in the series, which now must return to Yankee Stadium later this week.
"Being rained out yesterday got everybody cooled down," Wakefield said.
Pinch-hitter Jason Varitek -- just 2-for-36 against Mussina -- added breathing room for Boston with an RBI grounder in the seventh, just beating Alfonso Soriano's throw to first as the Yankees tried to complete an inning-ending double play.
"I thought that was the most important play of the game," Boston manager Grady Little said.
Until the ninth, New York's only run came home on Derek Jeter's fifth-inning double that hit third base. But pinch-hitter Ruben Sierra closed New York within a run when homered off Scott Williamson with one out in the ninth, ending a streak of 19 1/3 shutout innings for Boston's much-maligned bullpen.
Williamson, who had relieved Mike Timlin to start the inning, struck out Dave Dellucci and Soriano to earn the save.
The series continues at Fenway Park today, originally a travel day. David Wells pitches for New York against Derek Lowe in Game 5.
After Sunday's rainout, fans had a festive time on the warm autumn night, booing Yankees catcher Jorge Posada, who screamed Saturday at Pedro Martinez after the Boston pitcher hit Karim Garcia with a pitch. Posada went 0-for-4 with two strikeouts, leaving seven runners on base.
They also chanted "We want Nelson," a reference to New York reliever Jeff Nelson, involved in Saturday's ninth-inning bullpen scuffle. Nelson entered to boos in the eighth inning just after Felix Heredia hit Walker in the shoulder. There was no hint of trouble on this one -- Walker went directly to first base.
Still, there was at least one dispute -- but even then, it was resolved quickly and civilly.
After Nelson's first pitch, Little came out to talk to the umpires, who then checked the pitcher's belt and glove. But they didn't find anything against the rules, and Nelson got out of the inning with a double-play grounder.
"We had some indication that we saw a little something out there," Little said. "We didn't know."
There was extra security in the Yankees bullpen following the Game 3 fight that involved a member of Boston's grounds crew. There was a police officer stationed there from the start of the game Monday and no grounds crew personnel.
Wakefield improved to 4-0 in LCS play -- he also went 2-0 for Pittsburgh in 1992 against Atlanta. His eight strikeouts matched his season high, and he allowed just five hits.
"Tim Wakefield has been a big-game guy for them," Yankees manager Joe Torre said.
While the Yankees had runners in four of the first five innings, Wakefield pitched out of trouble, holding New York to 1-for-8 with runners in scoring position and leaving the bases loaded in the fifth, when Posada ended the inning with a flyout.
Wakefield then struck out the side in the sixth and retired the side in the seventh on four pitches.
"I think it had a little more depth tonight," he said of his knucklers.
Boston's offense, which led the major leagues during the regular season, has not scored more than five runs in any postseason game.
Mussina, who dropped to 0-3 in the playoffs, was far sharper than in last week's 5-2 opening loss, but he allowed two more homers, raising his total to five in his last two starts. He struck out 10 in 6 2/3 innings, giving up three runs and six hits. He is winless in his last six postseason starts.
Wakefield struggled to locate his knuckler in the first, throwing 11 of 20 pitches for balls. He walked Soriano leading off and Jeter lofted a soft single into center, but Jason Giambi's liner was caught by first baseman Kevin Millar, and Jeter was doubled up. After a walk to Bernie Williams, Posada took a called third strike.
"I got lucky enough that Kevin Millar was standing on the right spot," Wakefield said.
Dellucci, making his first start since spraining an ankle Aug. 27, was nicked on his right elbow leading off the third, stole second and went to third with two outs on a passed ball, but Giambi hit an inning-ending flyout.
Walker put Boston ahead with his homer to right leading off the fourth. It was his fifth of the postseason, a record among Boston players.
New York tied it in the fifth when Dellucci and Soriano singled with one out, and Jeter grounded a ball that hit third base and bounced over Bill Mueller for a double. But Giambi flied to short center -- Soriano held at third as Johnny Damon's throw home was to the third-base side of the plate. After Williams walked, loading the bases, Posada flied to left.
Nixon gave Boston the lead right back, homering to center leading off the bottom half.
Notes: Singer Michael Bolton had a long pause during the national anthem when he apparently lost his place after "ramparts we watched." He resumed, and the fans sang the last few lines with him. When he concluded, some fans booed. ... Nomar Garciaparra and John Valentin each hit four homers for the Red Sox in 1999.