Yankees win, take 2-0 lead on Red Sox

Lieber's seven strong innings carry New York to 3-1 victory

Martinez goes 6 innings, takes loss

Sheffield has RBI hit in 1st

Olerud gets 2-run HR in 6th

October 14, 2004|By Joe Christensen | Joe Christensen,SUN STAFF

NEW YORK - On a night the crowd repeatedly mocked Pedro Martinez with "Who's your daddy?" chant, he could have never guessed the answer would be a 34-year-old pitcher the New York Yankees kept on mothballs last year.

Jon Lieber, who signed with the Yankees in January 2003 but missed that entire season while recovering from reconstructive elbow surgery, was the real story in Game 2 of the American League Championship Series.

Lieber held the Boston Red Sox to one run on three hits over seven-plus innings, and New York did just enough damage against Martinez to secure a 3-1 victory last night before 56,136 at Yankee Stadium.

The Yankees lead the best-of-seven series 2-0, with Game 3 set for tomorrow in Boston.

This time, Gary Sheffield hit a run-scoring single in the first inning, giving the Yankees the early lead, and John Olerud drilled a two-run homer off Martinez in the sixth, turning the stadium into an echo chamber.

The "Who's your daddy?" shouts kept ringing down. Martinez had called the Yankees "my daddy" after giving up 14 runs against them in two September losses, and these fans may never let him forget it.

After the game, thinking back to his poor Dominican upbringing, Martinez said he didn't mind the chant one bit.

"You know," he said. "it actually made me feel really, really good. ... I actually realized I was somebody important because I caught the attention of 60,000 people, plus you guys [in the media], plus the whole world.

"If you could reverse my world, 15 years ago, sitting under a mango tree, with 50 cents to catch a bus, and today I was the center of attention for the whole city of New York."

That touching moment aside, a series that once looked so promising for Boston has quickly turned into a nightmare. Beyond losing the first two games, the Red Sox also face the prospect of playing the rest of the postseason without top pitcher Curt Schilling, who has a loose tendon in his right ankle and gave up six runs in three innings Tuesday night.

Boston manager Terry Francona still hopes to use Schilling in Game 5, but it will only happen if the team's medical staff can remedy the troublesome tendon problem with a customized brace. If not, Schilling is finished.

"Losing tonight had nothing to do with Schill," Francona said. "We'll regroup tomorrow and go home for three [games], and see if we can get back in this."

The Red Sox were hoping they could do that behind Martinez last night. And he wasn't all that bad, holding the Yankees to three runs on four hits and four walks over six innings.

"Tonight, he was Pedro," Yankees manager Joe Torre said. "All the things that are said about how we manhandle him ... tonight, he didn't give an inch."

But Lieber was simply brilliant. After the early fireworks when Martinez surrendered the first-inning run, the game crawled into the sixth, with New York clinging to its 1-0 lead.

Throughout his career, Martinez has had games like this against the Yankees. Coming in, his ERA through the first five innings against New York was 2.12, compared to 6.33 from the sixth inning on.

This time, he had 91 pitches coming into the sixth, and after getting the first out, he walked Jorge Posada, bringing Olerud to the plate.

Martinez threw all fastballs to Olerud, who was released by the Seattle Mariners this season and picked off the scrap heap by the Yankees when first baseman Jason Giambi started experiencing his health problems.

With a 2-2 count, Red Sox catcher Jason Varitek called for another fastball low and away, but Martinez missed, throwing the pitch belt-high and right over the plate. Olerud lined it over the right-field wall for a two-run homer and a 3-0 lead.

The Red Sox trimmed it to 3-1 in the eighth, when Orlando Cabrera hit a run-scoring ground out against Yankees reliever Tom Gordon.

But Torre summoned Mariano Rivera, who recorded his second straight four-out save.

For Lieber, it was his first first career postseason victory. He issued a rare leadoff walk to start the second inning and then retired 16 of 17 batters. He barely had to break a sweat until Johnny Damon battled him through a 16-pitch at-bat with one out in the sixth inning. After repeatedly fouling off pitches to stay alive, Damon lined out to center.

"It was a great at-bat for Johnny [Damon]," Torre said. "And [Lieber] kept throwing strikes. I'll tell you, he walked [David Ortiz] early, and then it just seemed once he settled in, he was just locked in.

With Schilling and Martinez, everyone thought the Red Sox had the edge in starting pitching. But after going hitless against Mike Mussina for 7 1/3 innings in Game 1, the potent Boston offense managed just one hit in Lieber's first 6 1/3 innings in Game 2.

"These two games were huge," Torre said. "[Schilling] didn't have his best stuff [Tuesday], but Pedro was Pedro. To beat him when he had his stuff like this, it really gives us a lot of confidence."

Baseball playoffs

AL Championship Series, Game 3:

N.Y. Yankees at Boston, tomorrow, 8:19 p.m., chs. 45, 5

NL Championship Series, Game 2:

Houston at St. Louis, today, 8:19 p.m., chs. 45, 5

Yankees vs. Red Sox

Best of seven; *-if necessary New York leads series 2-0

Game 1: New York, 10-7

Last night: New York, 3-1

Tomorrow: N.Y. (Brown 10-6) at Boston (Arroyo 10-9), 8:19 p.m.

Saturday: New York (Hernandez 8-2 or Vazquez 14-10) at Boston (Wakefield 12-10), 8:10 p.m.

*Sunday: New York at Boston, 8:15 p.m.

*Tuesday: Boston at New York, 8:19 p.m.

*Wednesday: Boston at New York, 8:19 p.m.

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