Baseball: Sweep of Red Sox puts Yankees in control
NEW YORK ó Jon Lester dazzled for seven innings, and the Red Sox held a lead in the eighth. Then everything unraveled, much as it did all series, and Boston was left wondering what else it can do to win a game.
Johnny Damon and Mark Teixeira hit back-to-back homers Sunday night, and the New York Yankees scored four times in the eighth inning for a 5-2 victory that wrapped up their first four-game home sweep of their bitter rival in 24 years.
“I wish I could say we were playing bad baseball or, you know, giving them the game. And we’re not doing that,” Lester said. “We’re playing hard. We’re playing the game the right way and we’re fighting to the last out.”
It just didn’t come soon enough this time.
Victor Martinez hit a two-run homer off Phil Coke (4-3) in the top of the eighth, snapping Boston’s 31-inning scoreless streak and making it 2-1.
Daniel Bard (0-1) retired the first two hitters in the bottom half before Damon homered to right, bringing the fourth consecutive sellout crowd at Yankee Stadium to its feet.
The fans didn’t have a chance to sit down, either, before Teixeira went deep to right two pitches later. It was the sixth time Damon and Teixeira have hit consecutive homers, the most ever for a pair of Yankees in one season.
“With one swing of the bat, you know, Victor, I think kind of really lifted everybody,” said Boston’s Jason Bay. “All of a sudden it was like, man, that’s the shift, that’s the swing that we’ve kind of been waiting for to right the ship.”
Nick Swisher added a two-run single in the eighth to make it an easy night for Mariano Rivera. The All-Star closer worked around a leadoff single for his major league-leading 32nd save.
Alex Rodriguez homered leading off the seventh for his 574th career home run, breaking a tie with Harmon Killebrew for ninth on the all-time list.
The Yankees (69-42) have won seven straight and own a 61/2-game lead over the Red Sox (62-48) in the AL East. New York, which entered the series 0-8 against Boston this season, has never failed to win the division when leading by more than six games.
“It’s great for us, but we can’t stop, we can’t think we’ve won anything,” Rivera said.
Tigers 8, Twins 7At Detroit, Placido Polanco hit a go-ahead single in the eighth inning and the AL Central-leading Tigers won their fifth in seven games.
Brandon Lyon (5-4) pitched a scoreless eighth and Fernando Rodney closed the game for his 23rd save in 24 chances.
Minnesota has lost seven of nine and trails the Tigers by 51/2 games.
Rangers 7, Angels 0At Anaheim, Calif., rookie Derek Holland threw a three-hitter against the majors’ highest-scoring offense for his first career shutout, and Texas gained ground on the AL West-leading Angels.
Holland (5-7) didn’t allow a hit until the sixth inning as Texas took two of three from the Angels, cutting Los Angeles’ lead in the division to 31/2 games.
John Lackey (7-5) left in the seventh after a career-high 131 pitches, yielding eight hits and two earned runs in his first defeat since July 7.
Blue Jays 7, Orioles 3At Toronto, Roy Halladay won his 10th straight decision over Baltimore, and Vernon Wells and Marco Scutaro each hit a two-run homer.
Halladay (12-5) allowed three runs and nine hits in eight innings, walked one and struck out four. The right-hander is 20-4 with a 2.89 ERA in 31 career games against the Orioles.
Athletics 6, Royals 3At Kansas City, Mo., Bobby Crosby homered twice and Ryan Sweeney hit a three-run shot to lead Oakland.
Sweeney and Crosby hit consecutive homers in the second inning off Luke Hochevar (6-5) to stake Brett Anderson (8-9) to an early 4-0 lead. The Royals scored three runs in the seventh to get within one, but Kurt Suzuki hit a solo homer in the eighth and Crosby had one in the ninth to put the A’s up 6-3.
Indians 8, White Sox 4At Chicago, Jamey Carroll hit a go-ahead RBI double in the fifth inning and added a solo homer in the seventh, leading Cleveland to its 12th win in 18 games.
David Huff (6-6) shook off a three-run second inning to pitch into the seventh. The left-hander allowed four runs on eight hits in 6 1-3 innings.
A.J. Pierzynski and Alexei Ramirez hit solo home runs for the White Sox, who fell three games behind Detroit in the AL Central.
Mariners 11, Rays 2At Seattle, Russell Branyan broke out of a slump with his first grand slam in six years and Ryan Rowland-Smith pitched effectively into the seventh for the Mariners.
Franklin Gutierrez’s second consecutive three-hit game included a game-turning home run in the second inning off Scott Kazmir (6-7).
Rowland-Smith (2-1) allowed two early runs but nothing else. He struck out a season-high six in 6 2-3 innings, as Seattle took two of three games from last season’s AL champions to stay on the fringe of the wild-card race.