Yanks overwhelmed by Sox's homers
'Pen forced to pitch five innings in third straight loss at Boston
BOSTON -- The Yankees trudged out of Fenway Park on Sunday and onward to their next destination, chagrined but not stunned at the Red Sox's tenacity in a three-game series that swept the Bombers out of Boston for the first time in 17 years.
Mike Lowell's three-run homer in the seventh inning -- his second of the game, following a contribution to an earlier historic barrage -- was the deciding blow as the Red Sox outslugged the Yankees, 7-6, completing Boston's first three-game washout of the Yankees since 1990 and returning the favor of last August's so-called five-game "Boston Massacre."
Lowell reached reliever Scott Proctor for the blast, which erased a one-run Yankees lead and was Boston's fifth blast of the night, following four consecutive home runs hit off rookie Chase Wright in the third inning.
Making just his second Major League start, Wright recorded the first two outs in the third before he surrendered successive solo home runs to Manny Ramirez, J.D. Drew, Lowell and Jason Varitek.
"One after another one," said catcher Wil Nieves. "They've got great hitters, and when you make mistakes, they hit them. It was tough seeing those home runs, but they happen. I know he's going to be fine."
Wright, who allowed four runs and five hits (walking three and fanning three), became just the second pitcher to allow four consecutive homers, joining the Angels' Paul Foytack, who served up four long balls to the Cleveland Indians on July 31, 1963.
"That was a whirlwind out there," Wright said. "That was tough. But that's what happens when you miss spots and leave pitches up in the zone. Guys are going to hit it, and that's what I did."
Watching the rockets soar out of the yard -- Ramirez to left-center field, Drew to right-center, Lowell and Varitek to left -- amateur pitching coach Johnny Damon came away with his own assessment.
"He's got a good sinker -- he just needs to use it a bit more," Damon said. "He needs to get behind his best pitches. He didn't get beat on his best pitches tonight."
It was a view shared by most of the Yankees' voices concerning Wright, a 24-year-old lefty who, coming into this season, had never pitched an inning in Double-A.
"I'm not saying you're going to dismiss it, but I don't think it's going to affect what he does," Yankees manager Joe Torre said. "We've been using our bullpen quite a bit. At what point do you want to get somebody up? After he throws the first one, the second one, third one ... it just happened so quickly."
The confident Texan could have a bright Major League future one day, as long as the hangover from Boston's four-gone conclusion doesn't linger.
"He's OK -- he looks like a tough kid," said Nieves, who knows something about toughness; he suffered a dislocated left thumb in the fourth inning but remained in the game. "He looked like he knew it didn't work this time, but he's going to come back."
The Yankees kept charging and seemed to come away with mixed reviews of their first close-up with Daisuke Matsuzaka, who allowed five runs and eight hits in a seven-plus-inning, seven-strikeout performance, walking one and hitting two.
Some Yankees were more impressed than others. Doug Mientkiewicz compared Matsuzaka's changeup to the one that Pedro Martinez holstered as part of his arsenal when he was pitching for the Red Sox in the 1990s.
Later, running down the list of Matsuzaka's repertoire, one was almost waiting for Derek Jeter to claim that Matsuzaka had actually thrown the kitchen sink out there.
"He throws all different types of fastballs, curveballs, sliders, change, a split maybe," Jeter said.
Jason Giambi laced a two-run double in the first inning, scoring Bobby Abreu and Alex Rodriguez, and Giambi drove home another run in the third inning when he singled past the reach of second baseman Dustin Pedroia.
Jeter tied the game in the fifth when he slugged the first Yankees home run off Matsuzaka, a solo shot into the first row above the Green Monster in left field. The Yankees added a run in the sixth on a double play and in the seventh on a fielder's choice, but they were turned away from more when Josh Phelps was robbed on a diving stab by Pedroia.
"It could have gone either way," Torre said. "The only thing I can say is we battled them. They fight hard, too. Unfortunately, we finished out on the short end three times."
In a scramble to relieve after Wright's aborted start, New York used left-hander Andy Pettitte, who threw 6 1/3 innings on Friday, for his second relief appearance of the season, throwing a nine-pitch sixth inning as one of five Yankees relievers.
The last time the Yankees dropped an entire three-game series at Fenway Park was Sept. 2, 1990. The Red Sox were on their way to winning the American League East, and Stump Merrill's Yankees were about to finish dead last in the division, wrapping up the year with 95 losses. In that series, the Yankees' losing pitchers were Dave LaPoint, Andy Hawkins and Mike Witt.
That may not make it any easier for fans to stomach this loss on a not-so-pleasant Monday morning, but the Yankees insist the saving grace is that, 18 games into this fresh campaign, they aren't down and out just yet. They point to a skeleton roster that will soon be replenished as reason to remain optimistic.
"No one likes to play with injuries, but it happens to every team," Jeter said. "You can't sit around and feel sorry for yourself. We got hit with a few of them at the same time, but you've got to get through it. That's what makes you a good team. It'd be great to get some those guys back, but you've got to find ways to win with them or without them."
Bryan Hoch is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.