BOSTON - The New York Yankees are trying to break another one of baseball’s unwritten rules, the one that says a double-digit deficit on Memorial Day is insurmountable.
One game after Alex Rodriguez offended some baseball purists by distracting a fielder during a popup, the Yankees built on that victory by beating the Red Sox 9-5 on Friday and climbing out of the AL East cellar. No longer tied for last with the Tampa Bay Devil Rays, New York still trails Boston by 12½ games.
“I think we need to be a little more fiery,” said New York manager Joe Torre, who was ejected for arguing a caught stealing in the fifth and was joined by reliever Scott Proctor after his errant pitch in the ninth — the fifth hit batter of the game — cleared the benches and bullpens.
“I think we showed fight tonight. We need to assert ourselves ... just get that determination back,” Torre said. “I hope we can build on this because we’re good. We’re much better than we’ve been playing, but obviously the results haven’t shown.”
Jorge Posada had a pair of doubles, including a three-run shot to cap a six-run rally that broke a fourth-inning tie. Rodriguez reached base three times and scored twice despite the mockery of a Fenway crowd that — with the division race apparently in hand — had no place else to direct its longstanding anger.
Chien-Ming Wang (4-4) scattered 10 hits and two walks over 5 2-3 innings, allowing three runs while striking out one to win for the third time in four starts.
Tim Wakefield (5-6) lasted 3 2-3 innings — the shortest outing for a Red Sox starter this year — and saw his ERA balloon from 3.36 to 4.24. He gave up eight runs on five hits with six walks, a wild pitch and a hit batsman while striking out two.
“I don’t think I’ve ever gone into any game thinking, ’Well, we’re due for a clunker,”’ Boston manager Terry Francona said. “It just kind of happens that way some times.”
Torre was ejected for arguing when Bobby Abreu was caught trying to steal third in the fifth. The Yankees already led 9-3; (there’s supposed to be an unwritten rule about stealing with a big lead, too).
The otherwise emotionless game boiled over with two outs to go when Proctor, who’s already been suspended once this season for pitching inside, dusted Kevin Youkilis and he made a move toward the mound. The benches emptied, Proctor was ejected, and the fans who remained began their traditional anti-Yankees chant.
The Red Sox cut a 9-3 deficit by two runs before Mariano Rivera got the last two outs. Robinson Cano, who was 4-for-4 with three doubles against Toronto on Wednesday, homered for the Yankees.
“That didn’t look like (a last-place team) tonight,” Youkilis said. “I don’t think the New York Yankees are ever a last-place team. They have too much potential.”
Manny Ramirez had four hits and Dustin Pedroia three for Boston, which lost both third baseman Mike Lowell and right-fielder J.D. Drew to apparently minor injuries during the game.
The start was delayed 25 minutes to honor Boston’s 1967 AL championship team, and it crawled its way to a finish more than four hours after the scheduled first pitch. Even the Boston fans’ glee over A-Rod’s personal and professional crises couldn’t keep them in their seats that long, and few stuck around for the end.
Among them was a contingent of a few dozen in the seats near the New York dugout that pulled on masks of a woman with blonde hair, a reference to the woman photographed with Rodriguez last weekend at a Toronto hotel. In a front-page story on Friday, the New York Post reported she is a former Las Vegas stripper.
“The fans thought about what they were going to do all day instead of enjoying the beautiful weather,” Yankees outfielder Johnny Damon said. “If that floats their boat, so be it.”
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