Yanks solve Santana, move into ALCS

Posted: Monday, October 06, 2003

MINNEAPOLIS The New York Yankees sure got back to their postseason best in a hurry.

The Yankees hit four doubles in a six-run fourth inning Sunday, giving David Wells a big lead and breezing into the AL championship series with an 8-1 victory over the Minnesota Twins.

After a sloppy loss in the opener that brought back memories of last year's first-round flop against Anaheim, New York beat the Twins three straight times to clinch the AL division series 3-1.

A rested Yankees team will open the ALCS on Wednesday night at home against Oakland or Boston.

Wells improved to 9-2 lifetime in the postseason by going 7 2-3 innings for the Yankees, who sent 12 batters to the plate in the fourth and knocked out Twins starter Johan Santana.

Bernie Williams and Hideki Matsui each hit an RBI double, and Nick Johnson added a two-run double. Alfonso Soriano's bloop two-run single made it 6-0.

Derek Jeter later homered for the Yankees. After losing Game 1 at home 3-1, New York outscored Minnesota 14-3.

The big-budget Yankees are under increasing pressure to win it all this year after going consecutive seasons without a World Series title. They put themselves in a great situation by finishing off Minnesota on Sunday.

They'll have two days off to rest before Game 1 of the ALCS, while the Red Sox and Athletics play a decisive Game 5 on Monday night after making a cross-country trip to Oakland.

Red Sox 5, Athletics 4

BOSTON The Boston Red Sox were four outs from another postseason failure when David Ortiz snapped out of his slump and saved their season.

Hitless in his first 16 at-bats of the series, Ortiz lined a two-run double off Keith Foulke with two outs in the eighth inning Sunday to give Boston a thrilling 5-4 win over the Oakland Athletics.

Manny Ramirez, who was 1-for-12 coming into the game, also broke out, getting two hits and scoring the go-ahead run as the Red Sox forced a decisive fifth game.

Oakland has lost eight consecutive games when it was just one win from advancing in the playoffs the longest such streak in major league history.

To snap that slump, they'll have to beat Boston ace Pedro Martinez after the teams fly across the country for Monday's Game 5.

Barry Zito will be pitching on three days' rest as the A's face the possibility of first-round elimination for the fourth consecutive season.

''I think we have the better team,'' said A's starter Tim Hudson, who left after just one inning because of a strained muscle in his side. ''We have the best left-hander in the league going tomorrow.''

But Boston has perhaps the best right-hander.

''It's all right,'' Hudson said, ''I'll take Barry Zito over Pedro Martinez any day.''

Boston was equally confident.

''We feel like we have the driver's seat because we have Pedro going tomorrow,'' said Red Sox outfielder Johnny Damon, who homered and threw out a runner at third.

''We know Pedro's going to be on.''

Boston is hoping for a repeat of 1999, when it rallied from a 2-0 deficit to beat Cleveland in the first round. Martinez also pitched Game 5 that year on full rest, coming out of the bullpen to throw six hitless innings.

''We've got the best pitcher in the planet going,'' said Boston starter John Burkett, who allowed four runs and nine hits in 5 1-3 innings.

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