New York pulls to 4 1/2-game lead

NEW YORK (AP) -- The New York Yankees battered Pedro Martinez,

chasing Boston out of town with their second rout in a row.

Gary Sheffield, Derek Jeter and Jorge Posada homered off an

ineffective Martinez, and Mike Mussina gave the resilient Yankees

another excellent outing Sunday as New York opened a 4½-game lead

in the AL East with an 11-1 victory.


height=90 align=right alt="Jorge Posada">



height=90 align=right alt="Derek Jeter">



height=90 align=right alt="Gary Sheffield">


"They put us in the rearview mirror a little bit," Red Sox

manager Terry Francona said.

Alex Rodriguez also connected in the second consecutive

offensive outburst by the Yankees, who outscored their longtime

rivals 25-5 the past two days after a deflating loss Friday night,

when star closer Mariano Rivera blew a ninth-inning lead.

"We take a lot of pride in coming back with intensity,"

Rodriguez said.

It certainly showed. The Yankees' hitters lit up Derek Lowe and

Martinez, and the pitchers shut down the highest-scoring team in

the major leagues with a pair of dominating performances.

After taking two of three in the series, the Yankees have some

breathing room -- their largest lead over Boston since before games

of Aug. 31. New York has 13 games remaining as it closes in on its

seventh straight division title, while the Red Sox play 14 more.

"We just feel like we're the best team in baseball," Sheffield


The teams play another three-game set next weekend at Fenway

Park. By then, the Red Sox might be too far back to catch New York,

though they still have a 5½-game lead over Anaheim in the wild-card


"If we get to the playoffs, believe me, we're not going to be

the ones who are scared," Martinez said.

Boston lost its first series since dropping two of three Aug.

13-15 against the White Sox. The Red Sox also lost consecutive

games for only the second time since Aug. 7.

Serenaded with a haunting chant of "Pe-dro, Pe-dro," Martinez

(16-7) lasted only five-plus innings and allowed eight runs,

matching a season worst. He had pitched at least six innings in 18

straight starts since June 2 at Anaheim.

The Boston ace, who couldn't hold a three-run lead in the eighth

inning of Game 7 in the 2003 AL championship series at Yankee

Stadium, has seven losses for the first time since 1998, his first

year with the Red Sox. He has dropped consecutive starts for the

first time since June 2002.

Martinez said he had trouble with his grip on a dry, windy day.

"I wasn't actually hitting my targets and made a couple of

mistakes. Some of them were good pitches that they hit. Some of the

others were just my fault," he said.

Featuring a nasty knuckle-curve, Mussina (12-9) struck out

eight, including Jason Varitek three times. The right-hander

allowed seven hits in seven innings, winning his third straight

start since losing a career-worst five consecutive decisions.

Mussina was sidelined from July 7 to Aug. 10 with a stiff right

elbow, but he has a 1.20 ERA in his last four outings spanning 30


"If I'm not at 100 percent, then I can't wait until I get

there," he said. "I can't ask for anything more."

Boston slugger Manny Ramirez was hitless in eight at-bats during

the series. Varitek went 0-for-10 with eight strikeouts.

"I stunk. That's all I can say," Varitek said. "We were

fortunate to grab one. They swung the bats really well, I give them

a lot of credit."

The Yankees came out swinging against Martinez, who fell behind

2-0 after four pitches. Rodriguez singled up the middle with one

out in the first, and Sheffield lofted a high fastball into the

left-field corner for his 35th homer of the season, prompting

chants of "MVP! MVP!"

Right after he left the game, Sheffield got two more cortisone

shots in his ailing left shoulder.

"I can't put into words what Sheffield has meant," manager Joe

Torre said. "He's special, and I'm glad we got an opportunity to

have him here."

With his parents cheering him on in the stands, Jeter connected

on Martinez's first pitch in the third, making it 3-0.

Boston scored in the fifth on Orlando Cabrera's bloop double and

Johnny Damon's RBI infield single, but the Yankees broke it open

with a five-run sixth.

Bernie Williams drew a leadoff walk on four pitches, and Posada

tucked an opposite-field liner into the first row down the

left-field line. It was Posada's second homer in two days, and it

gave New York five players with at least 20 homers.

Martinez then walked John Olerud on four pitches, and Ruben

Sierra dropped a double in front of left fielder Manny Ramirez, who

got a late jump.

Miguel Cairo lined a two-run single down the right-field line,

chasing Martinez. He trudged slowly off the mound to a chorus of

boos from the sellout crowd of 55,142.

"This team doesn't get demoralized. This is the Sox," Kevin

Millar said. "We're family in this clubhouse and we'll be ready to

roll tomorrow night."

Cairo scored on Sheffield's double-play grounder, and Olerud

added an RBI single in the seventh.

Rodriguez hit his 35th homer in the eighth, a two-run shot off

Pedro Astacio.

Game notes
Sheffield was unsure whether he'd be able to play Monday

night against Toronto. ... The Red Sox lead the season series 9-7.

... The Yankees are a season-high 39 games over .500. ... Jeter had

three hits, raising his average to a season-high .290.