Beckett beats ruffled Yanks; Manny homers twice, then takes pitch behind neck

NEW YORK (AP) -- Unable to slow down Manny Ramirez, the New York Yankees nearly knocked him flat -- whether they intended to or not.

Ramirez hit two more homers off an ineffective Mike Mussina, leading Josh Beckett and the Boston Red Sox past the Yankees, 7-5 Thursday night in a game that almost got testy.

With Ramirez enjoying his latest outburst against his favorite foe, New York reliever Kyle Farnsworth threw a 97 mph fastball behind the slugger's neck on the first pitch of the seventh inning, drawing cheers from the sellout crowd of 55,088.

"It just slipped. I was trying to be aggressive and go in on him," Farnsworth said.

Ramirez flinched and dropped his bat, but never made a motion toward the mound. Plate umpire Larry Vanover immediately warned both dugouts, and Ramirez eventually grounded out. The Red Sox never retaliated.

"He throws 100 mph. That's career-ending if it hits him," Boston's Dustin Pedroia said.

But for the most part, the Red Sox didn't voice much anger about Farnsworth's pitch. Ramirez said he wasn't particularly bothered, mentioning that Alex Rodriguez got plunked Wednesday night -- by Boston reliever David Aardsma.

"We hit one of the best players and I guess they want to send a message and that's what they did," said Ramirez, batting .478 with 14 homers and 38 RBIs in 33 games against the Yankees since 2006. "They've got to back up their players and he did."

Boston manager Terry Francona said "it's just part of the game," and Yankees captain Derek Jeter had a different take.

"He said it got away, so I guess that's the end of it," Jeter said. "I get hit all the time. Getting hit hurts. Close doesn't hurt."

Ramirez hit his 494th home run in the first, passing Lou Gehrig and Fred McGriff for sole possession of 24th place on the career list, then added No. 495 an inning later with a mammoth, two-run shot to left.

"I'm going to 600," Ramirez said.

That gave the slugger, who likes to admire his prodigious drives, five homers this season -- three in six days off Mussina (1-3). It also gave Ramirez 13 hits in his past 26 at-bats against Mussina, with four homers and 11 RBIs.

"He's pretty good, huh?" Beckett said. "Hopefully, he'll invite me to his Hall of Fame speech."

Ramirez finished with three hits for the second consecutive night and scored three times. J.D. Drew added a two-run double for the Red Sox, who earned a two-game split after losing 15-9 Wednesday night in a plodding game that took 4 hours, 8 minutes. This one was played in 3:20.

Boston won for the fifth time in six tries and snapped a five-game skid at Yankee Stadium since its previous win May 22 last year. The next time the rivals meet is a four-game series July 3-6 in New York.

Handed a 7-0 lead, Beckett (2-1) pitched a season-high eight innings and stopped New York's three-game winning streak. He allowed Jeter's two-run single and Bobby Abreu's RBI double in the fifth.

"He understands his responsibility and he's good enough to carry it out," Francona said. "He looked healthy."

Jason Varitek and Pedroia each had an RBI single in a four-run third against Mussina, who hit Jacoby Ellsbury with pitches his first two times up. Mussina gave up five runs and seven hits in three innings, foiled again by his long-haired nemesis.

Ramirez, who grew up minutes from Yankee Stadium, has 55 homers against New York. Jimmie Foxx (70) and Ted Williams (62) are the only players with more.

Ramirez has homered at Yankee Stadium in 10 consecutive seasons. He has 29 home runs at the ballpark, in its final season before the team moves into a new stadium under construction across the street.

And while Ramirez is batting .343 with 18 RBIs this year, buddy David Ortiz is stuck at .111

"If he don't hit I'm going to hit for him," Ramirez said.

Beckett beat Mussina 4-3 last Saturday at Fenway Park, where Ramirez hit a long homer off Mussina and a go-ahead, two-run double after the Yankees chose not to walk him with first base open in the sixth.

Beckett, who pitched Florida to the 2003 World Series title from the Yankee Stadium mound, struck out five in his third start of the season after being sidelined by a balky back in spring training.

"It's a cool place. I kind of like the way they're going to keep some of the flavor of this place at the new stadium," Beckett said.

Jonathan Papelbon worked the ninth, allowing Robinson Cano's RBI groundout and Melky Cabrera's two-out solo homer before striking out pinch-hitter Hideki Matsui to end it.

The 39-year-old Mussina dropped to 19-17 against Boston. He remained tied with Hall of Famer Bob Gibson for 42nd place on the career wins list at 251.

"I missed so bad a couple times that I can't remember what I tried to do. It was just lousy," Mussina said.

Game notes
Francona said the odds are against 3B Mike Lowell (sprained left thumb) being able to come off the disabled list as soon as he's eligible, on April 25. ... New York's Jorge Posada (arm fatigue) hopes to catch Saturday in Baltimore.