Yankees' 6-2 Win Sets Up Dandy in Fenway

Friday, October 10th 2003, 12:00 am
By: News On 6

NEW YORK (AP) _ Giddy after Andy Pettitte helped them even the AL championship series, Yankees fans serenaded Boston with a chorus of ``1918'' during the ninth inning. Then they chanted, ``We want Pedro!'' They won't have to wait very long. Following New York's 6-2 win in Game 2 Thursday night, the best-of-seven series resumes Saturday in Fenway Park, where former Red Sox great Roger Clemens pitches in Boston for the final time, opposed by Martinez, the current Red Sox ace.

``That's the ultimate right there,'' Boston's Kevin Millar said.

The fight for the AL pennant will slide to the background Saturday, when Clemens returns to the ballpark where he became famous for one final start. On Aug. 31, when he made his final regular-season outing there, fans gave him a standing ovation when he walked off the mound.

Saturday's meeting will be a rematch of Game 3 of the 1999 ALCS, when Martinez defeated Clemens 13-1, Boston's only victory in a series the Yankees won in five games. This time, Martinez can put the Red Sox ahead.

The Yankees' Jason Giambi already is looking forward to the game as a fan.

``Two of the most dominating pitchers this league has ever seen,'' he said.

After laboring through his first two innings Thursday, Pettitte commanded the Red Sox. Nick Johnson gave him a lead when he fought through his big slump with a go-ahead, two-run homer.

``It was a struggle for me all night,'' Pettitte said. ``I had to make a lot of big pitches tonight. I was very fortunate tonight to get through the first two innings.''

Seven of Boston's first nine batters reached base, but the Red Sox failed to score after loading the bases in the first and got only one run in the opening two innings despite six hits.

New York, coming off a 5-2 loss in the opener, went ahead on Johnson's homer in the second off loser Derek Lowe and opened a 4-1 lead by the fifth. Pettitte made it stand up, tying Tom Glavine for second on the all-time list with his 12th postseason win, one behind John Smoltz.

``He really came up big when they were on the bases and made some tough pitches when he was behind in the count,'' said Yankees catcher Jorge Posada, who added a two-run double in the seventh off Scott Sauerbeck.

Jose Contreras followed Pettitte with four straight outs, and Mariano Rivera pitched the ninth. The three combined to hold the Red Sox to four hits over the final seven innings.

``The game was determined there in the first two innings,'' Boston manager Grady Little said. ``He got into a rhythm after that, and the rest is history.''

Yankees owner George Steinbrenner was understandably pleased.

``It was all right. That game was good,'' he said. ``We've got a very good team.''

After New York lost the first-round opener to Minnesota last week, Pettitte pitched the Yankees to victory in Game 2, starting a run of three straight wins that put them back in the ALCS after a one-year absence. Against Boston, he fell behind in the count to five of his first six batters, but worked out of a bases-loaded jam in the first when Millar popped out.

``He was really wound up,'' Torre said. ``He was overthrowing the ball.''

Jason Varitek doubled leading off the second and scored on singles by Trot Nixon and Damian Jackson. Then, after pitching coach Mel Stottlemyre visited the mound, Gabe Kapler bounced into a double play and Bill Mueller grounded out. That started a run in which Pettitte retired 10 of 11 batters.

Contreras relieved with a runner on first and two outs in the seventh and got Garciaparra to pop out on his first pitch. When Boston lost out to the Yankees in the bidding for Contreras in December, Red Sox president Larry Lucchino called New York the ``Evil Empire,'' causing a new round of Northeast sniping between the rivals.

Johnson, meanwhile, woke up an offense that was flustered a night earlier by Tim Wakefield's knuckleballs. After Posada walked leading off the second and Hideki Matsui hit into a forceout, Johnson hit a long drive over the right-field wall.

Johnson had been in a 1-for-33 slump dating to the regular season, which included a 1-for-16 (.063) skid in the playoffs. He also had been 2-for-14 against Lowe, whose relief performance at Oakland on Monday night preserved a lead and got Boston to the ALCS.

``He's got a great sinker,'' Johnson said. ``I was looking for a pitch down the middle, I got a little cutter and put a swing on it.''

Bernie Williams had an RBI single for the Yankees in the third, then hit a double in the fifth and scored on a single by Matsui for a 4-1 lead. Varitek hit a solo homer for Boston in the sixth. The Red Sox felt like a chance had slipped away.

``Satisfied with one win?'' Varitek asked out loud. ``One win does us nothing. We still have a long way to go.''

Notes: Boston CF Johnny Damon, still sidelined by a concussion sustained Monday, hopes to return Saturday.