Back-to-back HRs from Damon, Teixeira earn Yanks 4-game sweep

NEW YORK -- Mark Teixeira held his bat high, slowly trotting toward first base, unsure whether the ball he'd just sent soaring into the night would stay fair.

The way this series went for Boston and New York, there should have been no doubt.

Teixeira hit the tiebreaking homer two pitches after Johnny Damon went deep in the eighth inning Sunday night, and the Yankees went on to beat the Red Sox 5-2 and complete their first four-game home sweep of their bitter rival in 24 years.

"I've hit a lot of balls like that that continue to hook and go foul, and I go back and pick up my bat and dust it off," Teixeira said. "So I just held onto my bat in case it went foul, I'd just walk back to home plate."

He found himself rounding the bases instead.

The home runs off Daniel Bard (0-1) came one inning after Victor Martinez's two-run shot off Phil Coke (4-3) had snapped the Red Sox's 31-inning scoreless stretch. It was the sixth time Damon and Teixeira hit consecutive homers, the most ever for a pair of Yankees in one season.

"To be able to do that back-to-back is not an easy task, and Tex stepped up," Yankees manager Joe Girardi said. "Big players did big things in the game tonight."

Alex Rodriguez homered in the seventh inning and Nick Swisher added a two-run single later in the eighth for the Yankees. They've won seven straight and built a 6½-game lead in the AL East -- and have never failed to win the division when leading by more than six.

"You need breaks to win sometimes and we didn't tonight, and we haven't got any in a while, so, you know, we're excited to head back home and start fresh," Boston's Dustin Pedroia said. "We're in the lead of wild card? What's the deal? Good, so we'll start over."

Um, not quite Dustin.

Even that was lost after Texas won earlier in the day to move into a tie with Boston.

"It's frustrating, you know, for everyone," David Ortiz said. "That's why when you're on a good roll, you've got to try to win as many games as possible, so when you get in that hump, you know, you just deal with it."

The Red Sox finished the disastrous series 3 for 38 with runners in scoring position, scoring two runs total the final three games. Their ugly scoreless streak against New York was Boston's longest since a 34-inning stretch from Sept. 1-24, 1952, according to STATS LLC.

The Red Sox had beaten New York eight straight times to start the season, but now find themselves limping back to Fenway Park. Boston is on a six-game skid and facing it's largest deficit in the division since Oct. 1, 2006.

"So much for 8-0, huh?" Coke said.

With the last of four straight sellout crowds at Yankee Stadium serenading the Red Sox with chants of "Sweep, Sweep," All-Star closer Mariano Rivera worked around a leadoff single in the ninth for his major league-leading 32nd save.

"I think that everybody feels the weight of, you know, not scoring enough runs," said Jason Bay, who was back in the lineup after missing the first three games with a hamstring injury.

"I think everybody wants to be that guy to come up and get that big hit. You want to do it so bad you're, you know, squeezing the bat handle harder."

A pitching duel between Andy Pettitte and Boston counterpart Jon Lester began dissolving when Rodriguez hit a solo shot leading off the seventh inning, giving him 574 home runs and breaking a tie with Harmon Killebrew for ninth on the all-time list.

It was the first home run allowed by Lester since June 18 against Florida.

The soaring shot didn't have quite the drama of the two-run homer Rodriguez hit Friday night, in the 15th inning of a scoreless game. But he seemed to enjoy it every bit as much, even taking a curtain call after greeting his cheering teammates.

Martinez answered the next inning and snapped the longest scoreless innings streak for Boston since September 1974. It was also the first extra-base hit for the Red Sox since Casey Kotchman's two-run homer in the fourth inning of a 13-6 loss Thursday night.

"It changed so fast," Red Sox manager Terry Francona said. "You know, it was a big shift in emotions. ... They did a heck of a lot better job this series than we did, so we have to live with it and now move on."

Pettitte gritted through seven innings, allowing five hits and two walks in what Girardi called his best performance of the season. He even out-pitched Lester -- just barely -- after Boston's hard-throwing left-hander went seven innings and allowed one run.

"Andy has pitched in so many big games for us," Girardi said. "He was great, Lester was great. We know every time we face Lester, it's going to be a battle."

Game notes
Damon's homer was the 100th for New York at Yankee Stadium. ... The Yankees activated RHP Chad Gaudin and designated Josh Towers for assignment. ... Boston purchased the contract of RHP Fernando Cabrera from Triple-A Pawtucket and designated RHP Enrique Gonzalez for assignment.