Red Sox even series with Yankees

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, October 14, 2003

BOSTON - Tim Wakefield left the New York Yankees' hitters frustrated and frazzled, too. Only he did it with a floater instead of a head-high fastball.

Now Derek Lowe has a chance to put the Boston Red Sox ahead in the AL championship series.

''There's no time to be looking back,'' Boston manager Grady Little said Monday night after the Red Sox's 3-2 win evened the best-of-seven series at two. ''You just need to be looking forward and stay focused on what you need to try to do.''

Email newsletter signup

Lowe, the Game 2 loser, opposes David Wells on Tuesday, trying to move Boston within a victory of its first World Series appearance since 1986.

''You can't get caught up on how big the game is,'' Lowe said.

Postseason pressure certainly hasn't gotten to Wakefield, who is baffling batters with pitches that float toward the plate mostly at 65-70 mph.

''They're still trying to figure him out,'' Red Sox catcher Doug Mirabelli said.

After consecutive wins by the Yankees, the day off caused by Sunday's rainout seemed to slow New York's momentum - as did Wakefield's knuckler.

Hard to believe, but Boston is two wins for the AL pennant even though Nomar Garciaparra has no postseason RBIs and is hitting .216 in the playoffs (8-for-37).

''Everybody feeds off everybody else in there,'' Todd Walker said. ''No matter who we put in there, we've got nine guys who can hit.''

Walker and Trot Nixon hit solo homers for Boston, which despite leading the major leagues in offense hasn't scored more than five runs in any postseason game. Pinch-hitter Jason Varitek added a key RBI grounder in the seventh, speeding to first to just avoid an inning-ending double play.

Most significantly, there were no more fights between the old foes.

''Being rained out yesterday got everybody cooled down,'' Wakefield said.

Wakefield beat Mike Mussina for the second time in the series, which now must return to Yankee Stadium later this week.

Until the ninth, New York's only run came home on Derek Jeter's fifth-inning double that hit third base. But after Scott Williamson struck out Nick Johnson leading off the ninth, pinch-hitter Ruben Sierra closed New York within a run with a homer, ending a streak of 19 1-3 shutout innings for Boston's much-maligned bullpen.

Williamson, who had relieved Mike Timlin to start the inning, then struck out David Dellucci and Alfonso Soriano to earn the save.

After Sunday's rainout, fans had a festive time on the warm autumn night, booing Yankees catcher Jorge Posada, who screamed Saturday at Pedro Martinez after the Boston pitcher hit Karim Garcia with a pitch. Posada went 0-for-4 with two strikeouts, leaving seven runners on base.

They also chanted ''We want Nelson,'' a reference to New York reliever Jeff Nelson, involved in Saturday's ninth-inning bullpen scuffle. Nelson entered to boos in the eighth just after Felix Heredia hit Walker in the shoulder. There was no hint of trouble on this one - Walker went directly to first base and said he wasn't upset.

Still, there was at least one dispute - but even then, it was resolved quickly and civilly.

After Nelson's first pitch, Boston manager Grady Little came out to talk to the umpires, who then checked the pitcher's belt and glove. But they didn't find anything against the rules.

''We had some indication that we saw a little something out there,'' Little said. ''We didn't know.''

Nelson didn't mind, saying it probably was in retaliation for New York asking umpires to check Timlin in the opener.

''His ball moves a lot, my ball moves a lot. It didn't bother me,'' Nelson said.

Wakefield improved to 4-0 in LCS play - he went 2-0 for Pittsburgh in 1992 against Atlanta. His eight strikeouts matched his season high, and he allowed just five hits.

While the Yankees had runners in four of the first five innings, Wakefield pitched out of trouble, holding New York to 1-for-8 with runners in scoring position and leaving the bases loaded in the fifth, when Posada ended the inning with a flyout.

''He's very unpredictable,'' Posada said. ''It's a pitch that he never knows what it's going to do. The catcher doesn't know what it's going to do.''

Mussina has allowed five homers in the two starts against Boston, is 0-3 in this year's playoffs and is winless in his last six postseason starts.

''I can only control 60 feet, 6 inches,'' he said, staring down. ''That's it. I'm doing my job the best I can. Other stuff has to be attended to by other people, not me.''