06/02/07 1:30 AM ET
Big inning lifts Yanks past Sox
Posada's three-run double caps six-run fourth at Fenway
By Bryan Hoch / MLB.com
The Yankees were hot all around on Friday, showcasing offensive outbursts against a familiar foe, rage from their mild-mannered leader and another snapshot shouting match on the Fenway Park turf.
It wasn't brisk, cooler heads didn't always prevail and it certainly wasn't pretty, but the Yankees were willing to swap their sweat-soaked shirts, caps and manager for a victory, pounding out a 9-5 decision over the Red Sox.
"We need to be a little more fiery," said Joe Torre, who watched the remainder of the game from the visiting clubhouse after a fifth-inning ejection.
"I'm not saying I'll be a new person. It's not a plan. We showed some fight tonight, something we really need to go out there and assert ourselves."
By the time Torre turned over his lineup card to bench coach Don Mattingly, he'd already witnessed the best the Bombers' bats were going to produce, taking advantage of an ineffective Tim Wakefield.
As the right-hander's trademark knuckleball danced erratically, the Yankees piled on Wakefield for eight runs in 3 2/3 innings in securing the game early.
Robinson Cano slugged a two-run homer and Johnny Damon worked a bases-loaded walk to open scoring in the second inning, and the Yankees added six more runs in the fourth with the benefit of two passed balls and a wild pitch. The big hit in the 10-batter frame was Jorge Posada's three-run double off reliever Kyle Snyder, who assumed duties after Wakefield threw 81 pitches in just 3 2/3 innings.
"We had great at-bats," Posada said. "We got people on base and that big hit came. It's just a matter of being more patient."
"It's definitely a great way to start June," said Johnny Damon. "Here we go. This month is so important for us. We need to make up ground; not just a game or two, but five or six games. We need to get on a roll."
The Yankees seemed on the verge of adding more in the fifth, as long-struggling Bobby Abreu opened the frame by banging an offering off the Green Monster in left-center field, chugging into second base with his second double of the game.
An out and a walk later, Abreu took off for third base and appeared to get his foot in ahead of the tag, but umpire Jerry Crawford punched Abreu out.
Later, with the Red Sox in the midst of a pitching change, Torre ventured back out for a second review, but Crawford had little interest in reliving it, running Torre in a heated commercial-break display witnessed live by only the 36,785 on hand.
"He got hot, I got hot, and the result is I'm sitting in here," Torre said later from the manager's office.
"It's fun to see," Posada said. "He got his money's worth."
Having showcased a varied repertoire to best the Red Sox in his last effort against them, starter Chien-Ming Wang continued to tread carefully against Boston's lineup -- at least, until the bats blasted open the doors.
With a 13 1/2-game deficit entering play Friday, there is a certain immediacy to every action taken by a player in pinstripes -- just ask Alex Rodriguez -- whether construed as desperation or aggressiveness. Friday brought more of the latter than the former, with even a meager two-game winning streak appearing as a tantalizing prize at Wang's workload.
"He's pitched some big games for us," Torre said. "Tonight was a huge game. We really haven't been able to string anything together."
The right-hander threw 75 pitches through the first three innings, touched for runs by David Ortiz's single and Julio Lugo's groundout in the second inning, plus Dustin Pedroia's double to left in the third.
Torre said that the effort wasn't exactly vintage Wang, but it evolved over the course of the night.
"He never uses that many pitches early in the game," Torre said. "Once we got the lead for him, he was somebody else."
Given the large advantage, Wang settled and worked into the sixth before handing duties off to reliever Mike Myers, who struck out Ortiz, the only batter he faced. Wang scattered 10 hits and walked two, striking out one in a 112-pitch outing.
Relievers Brian Bruney and Kyle Farnsworth held the American League East-leading Red Sox at bay in the seventh and eighth innings, but a mundane ninth inning erupted into much more when right-hander Scott Proctor -- as he insisted -- lost control of an inside fastball, brushing Kevin Youkilis on the sleeve and helmet.
The Boston infielder wasn't quite as understanding, briefly strutting out toward the mound before being intercepted by Posada and setting off an incident that dumped both benches and bullpens into a skirmish of finger-pointing and accusations.
Proctor -- who served a four-game suspension and paid a $1,500 fine earlier this season for throwing intentionally at Seattle's Yuniesky Betancourt -- pleaded his case with home-plate umpire Brian O'Nora, and later said he sympathized with the plunked batter as well.
"I can understand why Youkilis would be mad at me," Proctor said. "Any time you get a ball thrown at your head, I'd be [ticked] too."
Proctor said he planned to appeal to O'Nora again later, but for the moment, he was reduced to raging up the tunnel to Torre's office, swearing up and down to the also-ejected manager that his 2-2 offering to Youkilis had slipped away and was not a retaliation purpose pitch for three previous Yankees hit-by-pitches in the game by three different Boston pitchers.
Proctor's ejection forced the Yankees to use three relievers to protect what began the ninth inning as a six-run lead, as Ron Villone allowed a single to Ortiz and the acting manager Mattingly lifted the veteran lefty after one pitch to Manny Ramirez, calling upon Mariano Rivera to record the final two outs.
It was borderline unorthodox and arduously time-consuming, but the Yankees could handle that given their reward. No one seemed inclined to complain about a few more minutes spent on the field.
"Winning makes a lot of things well," Posada said. "The way we're playing now, it feels right."
Bryan Hoch is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.