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Cabrera, Damon drive in runs in ninth

NEW YORK (AP) -- The way the Boston Red Sox are playing these
days, nothing seems to be able to stop them. Not even Mariano
Rivera.

Orlando Cabrera and Johnny Damon hit RBI singles in the ninth
inning off the majors' top reliever, and the Red Sox stormed past
New York 3-2 Friday night to cut the Yankees' AL East lead to 2½
games.

"Without question, it was definitely a blow to their ego,"
Boston pitcher Bronson Arroyo said. "We start getting a little
closer, they start doubting themselves a little bit more."

Damon homered and had the go-ahead single as the Red Sox
improved to 25-5 since trailing their longtime rivals by 10½ games
on Aug. 15. Boston has two more games at Yankee Stadium,
highlighted by Pedro Martinez vs. Mike Mussina on Sunday, and three
against New York next weekend at Fenway Park.

Rivera took over in the ninth with a 2-1 edge, poised to earn
his career high-tying 50th save. But with a boisterous crowd
standing and stomping, Boston had other ideas, especially after
Damon's bloop single fell in front of center fielder Kenny Lofton,
starting in place of slumping Bernie Williams.

"If I made my pitches, I wouldn't have had a problem," Rivera
said. "The guys gave me a tremendous opportunity, but I blew it.

Trot Nixon drew a leadoff walk on a full-count pitch and
pinch-runner Dave Roberts stole second as Jason Varitek struck out.
Rivera hit Kevin Millar with a pitch and then Cabrera, playing in
his first Red Sox-Yankees game, grounded a tying single to right.

After Kevin Youkilis struck out, Damon -- who called Rivera "the
best closer in the history of the game" -- looped a soft single.

Rivera (4-2) appeared to mouth the words "Catch the ball"
after it fell in front of Lofton, who had pulled up.

After the game, however, Rivera softened that stance.

"If he had a chance, I guarantee you he would have caught it,"
he said.

Explained Lofton: "I was playing in left-center field. I'm
coming a long way. I didn't think I had a chance."

Both of Rivera's losses have come against Boston. He leads the
majors with 49 saves and has blown only four save chances, two to
the Red Sox -- they beat him back on July 24, the game punctuated by
Varitek shoving his catcher's mitt in Alex Rodriguez's face.

"Anytime you send Mo out with a one-run lead and don't come
back in with a victory, you're shocked," Yankees manager Joe Torre
said.

Added Damon: "If you can pull out a victory against Rivera,
you've done something special."

"Don't count on us doing that every time. It starts with
luck," he said.

Keith Foulke pitched the ninth for his 30th save in 35 chances,
completing the combined four-hitter. Mike Timlin (5-4) pitched one
inning for the win.

Until the ninth, it was a game of home runs -- and home runs that
were taken away.

A sellout crowd of 55,128 began cheering the moment Orlando
Hernandez came out to take his warmup pitches, and players from
both sides were hanging on the top railing of the dugout at the
start.

Boston slugger Manny Ramirez got the fans riled up right away
when he circled the bases on an apparent two-run homer in the first
inning, only to have umpires reverse themselves and call it a foul
ball.

"I had a good look at it, and it was a foul ball," said second
base ump Bruce Froemming, the crew chief.

Later, Ramirez made a spectacular catch to rob an incredulous
Miguel Cairo, who was already near the dugout when he learned he
was out.

A pair of rain delays dampened spirits somewhat in the middle
innings, but the crowd roaring again by the ninth.

Yankees reliever Tanyon Sturtze came on to start the fourth
after a 66-minute rain delay with the Red Sox leading 1-0 on
Damon's upper-deck home run. Sturtze blanked the Red Sox on one
single for 3 2-3 innings, striking out five.

Sturtze left the field beaming, rather than bloodied. The last
time he faced the Red Sox, he got beat up in a bench-clearing brawl
that started after Rodriguez was hit by a pitch from Arroyo and
tangled with Varitek.

The Yankees made it 1-all in the fourth against Arroyo on Jorge
Posada's RBI groundout and John Olerud hit his eighth homer the
next inning deep into the right-center field stands.

Game notes
Boston is 9-5 against the Yankees this season, including
wins in all four starts by Arroyo, who didn't have a decision in
any of them. The teams play three times at Fenway Park next
weekend. ... New York SS Derek Jeter did not get on base. He had
gotten a hit and scored a run in 11 straight games. ... Jason
Giambi was hitless in four at-bats. He's in a career-long 0-for-32
rut, including 0-for-11 since returning to the Yankees from his
illness. ... Plate umpire Hunter Wendelstedt warned both benches
after Millar was hit in the ninth inning. Wendelstedt said he was
merely following Major League Baseball guidelines. "All it does is
create more paperwork for us," he said.