Yanks hold off Sox, 10-7

Rivera halts Boston's big rally after Mussina throws perfect 6 1/3

October 13, 2004|By Joe Christensen | Joe Christensen,SUN STAFF

NEW YORK -- Mike Mussina came eight outs from tossing a perfect game. Curt Schilling made a stunning exit after the worst postseason start of his career.

And after looking listless and hopeless for most of the night, the Boston Red Sox made a stirring comeback, forcing the New York Yankees to use Mariano Rivera, who didn't arrive at Yankee Stadium until 33 minutes after the game began.

Come on. Who expected anything less from Game 1 of the American League Championship Series? The Yankees saw an eight-run lead shrink to one in the eighth inning last night, but held on for a 10-7 victory, with Rivera getting the final four outs on the same day he attended the funerals of two relatives in Panama.

"All those people who say you sit in the dugout [looking] so calm didn't want to be in there tonight," Yankees manager Joe Torre said. "Each game is going to be an emotional roller coaster, there's no doubt."

Despite the loss, Boston saved a little face in what figures to be an entertaining rematch of last year's ALCS, which New York won in seven equally dramatic games.

This time, the Yankees built a 6-0 third-inning lead against Schilling, who was pitching with a sore right ankle, and Yankee Stadium was literally shaking, as a crowd of 56,135 chanted, "Who's your daddy?"

That's a reference to Pedro Martinez, who will take the mound for Boston opposite New York's Jon Lieber in Game 2 tonight. Martinez called the Yankees "my daddy" after giving up 14 runs against them in two September losses.

Now the Red Sox will look to Martinez to continue what they started from the seventh inning forward last night.

The Yankees, who got five RBIs from Hideki Matsui, matching an ALCS record, had complete control of Game 1 until then.

A right ankle injury that Schilling thought he had under control flared up at the worst possible time, and he left after giving up six runs on six hits in three innings.

Asked if he thought he could pitch again in the series, Schilling said, "If I can't go out there with something better than I had today, I'm not going out there. This is not about me. It's about us winning the world championship."

New York led 8-0 when Mussina allowed his first base runner. Using a brilliant knuckle-curveball, he retired the first 19 batters he faced until Mark Bellhorn ripped a double into the left-center-field gap with one out in the seventh inning.

Mussina, a former Oriole who is no stranger to close chances like this, winced once the ball left Bellhorn's bat.

On Sept. 2, 2001, Mussina was one out from a perfect game against Boston, when Carl Everett singled up the middle.

Before that, Mussina had two close chances with the Orioles, retiring the first 25 Cleveland Indians on May 30, 1997, before Sandy Alomar got a hit, and retiring the first 23 Detroit Tigers on Aug. 4, 1998, before Frank Catalanotto got a hit.

This time, the Red Sox didn't let up once they saw Mussina flinch. Kevin Millar hit a two-run double, and Trot Nixon hit an RBI single, prompting Torre to go to his bullpen with an 8-3 lead.

Tanyon Sturtze came on with two outs in the seventh, and immediately surrendered a two-run homer to Jason Varitek, bringing the crowd to a hush.

Rivera arrived at the stadium in the second inning after taking a five-hour flight from Panama on a private plane provided by the Yankees. As is his custom, Rivera remained in the clubhouse until the fifth inning, and he was standing and watching the action from the bullpen when Varitek hit his home run.

Tom Gordon, the Yankees' eighth-inning specialist, went to the mound to protect a three-run lead. But the Red Sox put two runners aboard, and with the left-handed-hitting David Ortiz coming to the plate, Torre stuck with Gordon instead of turning to Rivera, who has been so tough on left-handers throughout his career.

Ortiz launched a ball to left-center field, and Matsui tried to make a leaping catch against the wall, with the ball falling to the ground for a two-run triple.

"That ball came about a foot from making it a tie game," Red Sox manager Terry Francona said.

But all of a sudden, it was 8-7.

Torre hopped from the dugout and summoned Rivera, who entered to his customary tune, Metallica's "Enter Sandman."

"I didn't see [Rivera] until after I shook his hand after the game," Torre said, explaining that pitching coach Mel Stottlemyre talked to Rivera in the clubhouse offering assurances he was ready to pitch.

"He's special, there's no question," Torre added.

After throwing his first two pitches for balls, Rivera got Millar to swing and miss at a strike before popping out. The crowd heaved a huge sigh of relief, and then in the bottom of the eighth, Bernie Williams delivered a huge two-out, two-run double off Mike Timlin, extending the lead back to three.

The Red Sox brought the tying run to the plate again in the ninth, but Rivera got Bill Mueller to ground into a double play, ending the game.

"I'm tired, but my mind kept going," Rivera said. "My friends and my teammates helped me out big time tonight, and I appreciate that."

Baseball playoffs

AL Championship Series Game 2: Boston at New York, 8:19 tonight, chs. 45, 5

NL Championship Series Game 1: Houston at St. Louis, 8:19 tonight, Comcast SportsNet

Inside NLCS preview, with keys to the series, statistics and more. Page 4E

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