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Red Sox's hot streak ends as Yankees rough up Schilling

NEW YORK (AP) -- Hey Boss, Alex Rodriguez got the big hit against
Boston.

A-Rod had a powerful answer for George Steinbrenner's criticism,
and the New York Yankees roughed up old nemesis Curt Schilling in a
7-3 victory over the Red Sox on Wednesday night.

Jason Giambi, Jorge Posada and Rodriguez all homered off
Schilling, sending the Yankees to their first win this season
against their longtime rivals.

"I'm judged just the way I should be judged. I make an awful
lot of money and I'm a talented guy," Rodriguez said. "I expect
all the criticism, and it motivates me."

Mike Mussina (6-1) provided stability on a hectic day in the
Bronx, settling down after a shaky start to become the American
League's first six-game winner.

David Ortiz hit a two-run homer and went 4-for-4, ending his
2-for-24 skid. Mike Lowell's solo shot gave Schilling a 3-0 lead,
but he couldn't hold it and the Red Sox had their five-game winning
streak snapped.

"These games have so much passion and people care so much about
them, but they are all the same in the standings," Boston manager
Terry Francona said.

Johnny Damon added an RBI single for New York, his first hit in
11 at-bats against his former team. The Yankees rebounded from a
14-3 drubbing the night before and improved to 1-2 against Boston.

"It's a big win for us simply because of the way we got beat up
last night," Mussina said.

Shawn Chacon faces Red Sox knuckleballer Tim Wakefield in the
series finale Thursday night.

Rodriguez was singled out in critical quotes attributed to
Steinbrenner after making two errors Tuesday night.

"I'm upset at a lot of them," the owner was quoted as saying
in New York newspapers on Wednesday. "The third baseman!"

But manager Joe Torre said Steinbrenner called him and told him
his comments were misinterpreted. Torre said The Boss told him he
never meant to "get on" any of his players.

Rodriguez responded with a tiebreaking shot in the fifth inning
and said nobody expects more of him than he does himself.

"Alex is sensitive. I know he's a great talent and all that
stuff, but he certainly wants everybody to be proud of him," Torre
said. "He's going to have to deal with it and move on. He doesn't
need motivation."

Besides all that buzz before the game, the Yankees sent
struggling ace Randy Johnson for an MRI to make sure he isn't hurt.
Tests on his left shoulder showed nothing abnormal, the team said.

Mussina won his fifth straight start, allowing three runs and
seven hits in 6 2-3 innings for his 230th career win. He struck out
five, walked one and departed to chants of "Mooooose!"

Scott Proctor, supplanting Tanyon Sturtze as Torre's go-to guy
in the seventh inning, brushed Manny Ramirez back, then struck out
the slugger to strand two runners.

"I knew I could get him away. I've done it before," Proctor
said. "This is the way I knew I could pitch, and I'm finally
pitching to my potential. Just knowing that (Torre) has faith in me
gives me confidence."

Proctor also worked a perfect eighth and Mariano Rivera finished
up for the Yankees (19-12), who have won six of seven and eight of
10 to match their season high of seven games over .500.

Schilling (5-2) gave up eight hits and a season-high six runs in
five innings, his shortest outing this year. He had allowed four
homers in 47 2-3 innings entering the game.

"I felt like I had everything working. I gave it, and they took
it back," Schilling said. "It was a very small strike zone.
Anytime you have to go against either of these lineups and the
strike zone is smaller than you're used to, you have to make
adjustments. He did it and I didn't."

With the score tied at 3, Schilling struck out Derek Jeter and
Giambi to start the fifth, then ran into trouble. Rodriguez, booed
by fans early in the game, drove a 2-1 pitch way over the
left-field fence for his seventh homer this season and first at
Yankee Stadium.

"He needed that," Giambi said.

Satisfied with his quick, powerful swing, Rodriguez tossed his
bat aside as he began to circle the bases.

"We realize that it's been tough for him. We realize that
everybody expects him to go 4-for-5 with two homers every game
against Boston, and if he doesn't it's a disappointment. But he's a
pretty good player," Mussina said. "I know it was a big hit. It
was a big deal, and most of us that have been here a while realize
it."

Schilling, of course, helped Boston rally from 3-0 down to beat
the Yankees in the 2004 AL championship series and was co-MVP of
Arizona's World Series win over New York in 2001. He also was one
of several Red Sox to criticize A-Rod before the 2005 season.

Rodriguez responded back then by saying it was "going to give
us great motivation to beat him up in the future."

But after Wednesday's win, Rodriguez said: "I have all the
respect for Curt. He's a great pitcher, so don't even go there."

Later in the inning, Posada hit a two-run drive into the
right-field upper deck.

Game notes
Lowell's previous eight hits were doubles, the longest such
streak since Gerald Williams of the Yankees did it in 1995. ...
Mussina improved to 18-14 against Boston in the regular season,
including 9-8 with the Yankees. He was 0-2 with a 7.20 ERA in four
starts vs. the Red Sox last year.