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Yanks open 5½-game lead

BOSTON (AP) -- Those Red Sox managers just never learn.

With an eerie resemblance to last year's postseason debacle,
Pedro Martinez took a lead into the eighth inning before tiring and
the New York Yankees rallied past Boston 6-4 Friday night to open a
5½-game advantage in the AL East.

"It had a lot of similarities to the playoff game last year,"
Yankees starter Mike Mussina said. "History tends to repeat itself
-- but usually not that quickly."

Grady Little was the Red Sox manager last fall when he left
Martinez in during the eighth inning of Game 7 in the AL
championship series; the Yankees overcame a 5-2 deficit to tie it
and earned a World Series berth when Aaron Boone homered in the
11th.

Little was let go after the season and replaced by Terry
Francona. But Francona, much as his predecessor did, sent Martinez
(16-8) back out for the eighth even though he needed 101 pitches to
get through the first seven innings; the Boston fans let Francona
hear about it on Friday, much as they did for his predecessor.

Hideki Matsui homered on pitch No. 103 to make it 4-4, and
Bernie Williams followed with a ground-rule double. Martinez struck
out Jorge Posada, who hit the game-tying double off the Red Sox ace
in the ALCS, but Ruben Sierra singled home the go-ahead run and --
finally -- chased Martinez.

"If I run out there after two pitches ... it would make it look
like I wasn't making a very good decision before the inning,"
Francona said. "We put a lot of thought into what we're doing. I
was disappointed it was a tie game instead of having a one-run
lead, but two pitches into the inning he's still, in my opinion,
he's OK."

Manny Ramirez hit his AL-leading 42nd homer and Trot Nixon also
connected for Boston, which had been hoping to close ground on the
Yankees but now needs to win the final two games of the series to
have any realistic hope of winning the division.

If not, the Red Sox are comfortably in the lead for the AL
wild-card spot. They took a six-game lead over Anaheim and Texas
into Friday night's games.

"What can I say -- just tip my hat and call the Yankees my
daddy," Martinez said. "I can't find a way to beat them at this
point. ... They're that good. They're that hot right now -- at least
against me. I wish they would disappear and not come back."

Martinez tried to deflect the blame from his manager, just as he
did last October.

"It's just frustrating for me not to do the job," he said.
"It was all me. I wanted to bury myself on that mound."

Matsui added an RBI double in the ninth -- his third hit of the
game.

Tom Gordon (8-4) pitched two innings and allowed a solo homer to
Johnny Damon that gave Boston a 4-3 lead. Mariano Rivera pitched
the ninth for his 51st save; he has blown four saves all season,
two against the Red Sox.

Martinez had one consolation: he improved on Sunday's outing, an
11-1 loss to the Yankees in which he allowed eight runs in
five-plus innings. On Friday, he allowed five runs on nine hits and
two walks, striking out five in 7 1-3 innings to lose his third
consecutive start for the first time since 1998; the eight losses
are his most since he was with Montreal in 1997, a year in which he
won the NL Cy Young Award.

The Yankees scored twice in the third. Miguel Cairo was hit by a
pitch to lead off the inning and stole second base. One out later,
Alex Rodriguez singled and went to second when Nixon's throw from
right field to second base got by shortstop Orlando Cabrera.

Rodriguez stole third and scored on Gary Sheffield's base hit to
make it 2-0.

After Mark Bellhorn walked in the bottom half, Ramirez tied it
with one swing, hitting Mussina's first pitch high over the Green
Monster. Boston took a 3-2 lead on Nixon's solo homer in the
fourth, but the Yankees tied it in the sixth.

Matsui walked and Williams hit a line drive to center that he
stretched into a double. Posada hit a blooper to right that Nixon
caught on a dive, spinning to make a throw home and hold the
runners at second and third.

But Sierra hit a deeper drive to right that scored Matsui
easily.

Game notes
Ramirez and David Ortiz (40) have tied the record for
homers by Red Sox teammates with 82. Ted Williams hit 43 in 1949
and Vern Stephens hit 39. ... Martinez made his 200th start with
the Red Sox. ... Mussina allowed three runs and five hits in six
innings. ... Jason Varitek is 4-for-44 in his career against
Mussina. ... Damon's 18 homers ties his career high. ... Bernie
Williams hit career doubles No. 400 and 401.