Brawl adds more fuel to Yankees-Red Sox rivalry

Posted: Sunday, July 25, 2004

BOSTON There's a little fight left in the Boston Red Sox, after all.

Bill Mueller hit a two-run homer off Mariano Rivera to cap a three-run ninth inning and lead the Red Sox to an 11-10 victory over the New York Yankees on Saturday. The shot brought the Red Sox pouring out of their dugout for the second time the first was during a bench-clearing brawl when the Yankees' Alex Rodriguez was hit by a pitch in the third.

''It just shows you how much both teams were hyped up,'' said Rodriguez, among four players ejected and forced to watch from their clubhouses. ''Once you're in the moment competing against a team you really don't like ... you can't really control your emotions.''

Kevin Millar had four hits and former Yankee Ramiro Mendoza (1-0) earned the win with two hitless innings. Boston rallied from a 9-4 deficit despite four errors.

The game, which started after a 54-minute delay, almost was postponed. The grounds crew wanted to call it off but Boston players argued for it to go on despite wet grounds some Yankees, told the game wouldn't be played, had already showered.

''The Red Sox wanted to play today,'' Millar said.

And it turned into another Red Sox-Yankees thriller.

''I'm very, very proud of what our players did today,'' Boston general manager Theo Epstein said. ''We've been waiting to have this feeling all year.''

With Boston trailing 10-8, Nomar Garciaparra doubled to lead off the ninth, Trot Nixon hit a long out to the warning track and Millar, who homered three times on Friday, singled to score Garciaparra. Mueller homered into the bullpen just the second homer this year off Rivera, who had converted 23 consecutive save chances.

''I was biting my nails the whole time,'' said Boston catcher Jason Varitek, who sparked the brawl when he hit Rodriguez in the face. ''It was the hardest game I've had to watch. I think my head almost hit the ceiling in the locker room. It was awesome.''

The Red Sox, who also brawled with the Yankees during last year's playoffs, were two outs from falling 10 1/2 games behind New York in the AL East; they have never come back from more than 10 games to win the division.

Instead, Boston is 8 1/2 games back heading into Sunday night's series finale, fighting with Chicago and Oakland for the wild-card lead.

''Our rivalry is probably not probably, it is like no other rivalry,'' Yankees manager Joe Torre said. ''It's an emotional game. You'd like to believe you can play like a board game, but you can't. There are people involved. There are emotions. It's a high-energy situation.''

Hideki Matsui went 3-for-5 with three RBIs for the Yankees. Ruben Sierra homered to lead off the seventh to make it 10-8 after the teams combined for 10 runs in a 1-hour, 5-minute sixth inning.

The Red Sox were trailing 3-0 and hitless before Bronson Arroyo plunked Rodriguez, prompting the AL MVP to stare at the mound as he moved slowly toward first. Varitek positioned himself in front of Rodriguez and the two began jawing before Varitek, still wearing his mask, pushed the Yankees star in the face.

The dugouts and bullpens emptied.

''I told him, in choice words, to get to first base,'' Varitek said. ''And then it changed from him yelling at Bronson to yelling at each other, and then things got out of hand.''

Athletics 6, Rangers 2

OAKLAND, Calif. Mark Kotsay homered twice to help the A's snap a three-game losing streak.

Kirk Saarloos (2-1) pitched five strong innings for the A's, who pulled within 3 1/2 games of the first-place Rangers in the AL West. Justin Duchscherer, Jim Mecir and Octavio Dotel combined to pitch four scoreless innings of relief.

Saarloos allowed two runs, three hits and five walks in his fourth start of the season. R.A. Dickey (5-7) allowed eight hits and four runs in 5 1-3 innings.

Orioles 4, Twins 2

BALTIMORE Miguel Tejada homered and drove in two runs to back Sidney Ponson, and the Orioles snapped the Twins' five-game winning streak.

Ponson (5-12) won consecutive starts for the second time this season. The right-hander gave up two runs, four hits and four walks in seven innings.

David Newhan drove in the tiebreaking run with a seventh-inning sacrifice fly, and the Orioles' bullpen made it stand up. Jorge Julio worked a perfect ninth for his 15th save in 17 chances.

Blue Jays 4, Devil Rays 2

TORONTO Josh Towers won his third straight start and extended Tampa Bay's losing streak to five games.

Since moving a season-high two games over .500 on July 3, the Devil Rays have gone 5-14.

Towers (5-3) allowed two runs one earned and six hits in seven innings. Rookie Jason Frasor got four outs for his 12th save in 13 chances.

White Sox 7, Tigers 6

CHICAGO Joe Crede hit a game-winning home run in the ninth to rally the White Sox.

Crede homered with one out in the ninth on a 3-2 pitch from Ugueth Urbina (3-5), the fourth game-ending homer of Crede's career.

Chicago won its fourth straight and moved past Minnesota into the AL Central lead. The White Sox trailed 4-0 in the fifth inning and 6-2 in the seventh before coming back to send the Tigers to their sixth loss in eight games.

Indians 10, Royals 2

Indians 4, Royals 3

CLEVELAND Rookie Grady Sizemore's RBI single with two outs in the ninth inning gave the Indians a 4-3 win and sweep of the day-night doubleheader.

Sizemore's base hit to left on a 3-2 pitch from Rudy Seanez Kansas City's fourth pitcher in the ninth scored pinch-runner Tim Laker and capped Cleveland's two-run rally.

Angels 8, Mariners 4

SEATTLE Darin Erstad and Josh Paul each hit two-run homers during a two-out, five-run rally in seventh inning to lead the Anaheim Angels past the Seattle Mariners 8-4 Saturday night.

Robb Quinlan also homered and went 3-for-4 with three RBIs in the Angels' third straight win. Erstad drove in three runs and now has 12 RBIs in the last 11 games.

Trailing 3-2 in the seventh, Chone Figgnins led off with a walk. Two outs later Quinlan doubled off Julio Mateo (1-1), scoring Figgins. Mike Myers relieved and gave up Erstad's 415-foot homer to make it 5-3.

Bengie Molina singled before Paul drove another pitch by Myers into the stands in left-center. Myers faced four batters, and did not get an out.

Quinlan homered off Mariners starter Ron Villone in the sixth.

Aaron Sele (6-0) struggled early but picked up the win. He allowed five hits and three runs two earned over six innings.

Villone was sharp for Seattle, allowing six hits and two runs one earned over 5 2-3 innings. He walked two and struck out five. He left with a 3-2 lead. In Villone's three starts this season, he has a 1.69 ERA with three no decisions.

With one out in the fifth, Ichiro Suzuki hit an infield single and then scored on Randy Winn's triple into the gap in left-center that gave Seattle a 3-1 lead.

Winn drove in another run with an RBI single in the seventh that cut the Anaheim lead to 7-4, but they couldn't get any closer.

Anaheim tacked on a run in the eighth on Quinlan's RBI single. In the last five games, he's 11-for-18 (.611).

The Mariners scored a run off Sele in the first when Suzuki scored on a groundout by Bret Boone. They upped the lead to 2-0 in the third without a hit. After Sele walked Winn and Raul Ibanez. Their double-steal with two outs turned into a run as catcher Bengie Molina's throw sailed high into center field for an error allowing Winn to score.

Anaheim came right back in the fourth with a run, also without getting a hit. With one out, Villone walked Quinlan. Villone's wild throw on his attempted pickoff moved Quinlan to third. Quinlan then scored on Erstad's sacrafice fly.

Notes: Paul's homer in the seventh was his first since Sept. 8, 2001. ... LHP Jarrod Washburn was scratched from his scheduled start on Sunday because of inflammation on a ligament in his chest. He's day to day. Ramon Ortiz will start in his place against Seattle. ... Sele's last win against Seattle was Sept. 24, 1998. ... Suzuki extended his hitting streak to 16 games with a first-inning single. It matches his longest streak of the season (April 30-May 18). ... In 34 relief appearances this year, Villone has a 3.42 ERA.

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