NEW YORK (AP) -- When Bill Mueller's homer sailed over the
left-field fence in the first inning, the New York Yankees seemed
headed for another long day against Boston's relentless offense.
Instead, Andy Pettitte shut down baseball's top-hitting team and
gave the Yankees just the lift they needed.Pettitte struck out 10 in eight innings and Curtis Pride homered
in his Yankees debut, leading New York to a 7-1 victory over the
Red Sox on Sunday."He's pitched some big games for us," manager Joe Torre said.
"I don't know if he's pitched any bigger regular-season games than
this one because of the way we were beat up the last two days."Alfonso Soriano went 3-for-5 with a two-run triple to help the
Yankees snap a three-game losing streak and move three games ahead
of second-place Boston in the AL East."This wasn't a must-win game, but it was big," Pettitte said.
"I knew we had to have it in a big way."After watching David Wells and Roger Clemens get hammered for
eight runs apiece in the first two games of the four-game series,
Pettitte (10-6) got New York back on track.He was almost perfect after Mueller's homer -- Boston's 11th of
the series. He retired 16 straight between Kevin Millar's leadoff
single in the second and Manny Ramirez's one-out single in the
seventh."If you make a mistake, they're going to hurt you," Pettitte
said. "Even when you don't they'll get you. They're a great
hitting ballclub. I was very fortunate to be able to hold them
down."By the time Ramirez got his hit, the Yankees led 4-1 despite
again squandering many scoring opportunities. New York was 1-for-12
with runners in scoring position in the game and 2-for-28 in the
series until breaking through in a three-run seventh.But it didn't matter because Pettitte allowed just four hits to
win his fifth straight start.The Red Sox, who lead the majors in runs and hitting, averaged
nearly 10 runs per game over their last 11 contests before being
shut down by Pettitte."He had everything working together today. He was nasty,"
Ramirez said. "It was the best we've ever seen Pettitte."He even shut down David Ortiz, who became the first visiting
player ever with consecutive multihomer games at Yankee Stadium.
Pettitte fanned Ortiz all three times."Pitchers are trying to figure out how to get hitters out and
hitters are trying to figure how to get hits," Red Sox manager
Grady Little said. "I think Andy figured it out a little better
today."The Yankees overcame the early deficit quickly, scoring twice in
the first inning against John Burkett (6-4).Soriano led off with a double and Burkett retired the next two
batters before Ruben Sierra hit a soft single to center to tie the
game. Sierra scored on Hideki Matsui's double to left-center."It was a bit of a struggle," Burkett said. "I didn't think I
had my best stuff."The Yankees left the bases loaded in the second without scoring
and loaded the bases again with two outs in the fifth. Burkett
walked Robin Ventura on four pitches to force in a run before
getting Karim Garcia to ground out to end the inning.Pride started the sixth with a drive over the center-field fence
off Burkett for his first major league homer since May 27, 2001,
with Montreal. He had been out of the majors since 2001 before
being called up by the Yankees on Friday."This is a very emotional experience for me. I had tears in my
eyes," he said.Despite being almost totally deaf, Pride could sense the
standing ovation from the sellout crowd after his homer and took a
curtain call."I felt the vibrations. Joe Torre and Don Zimmer told me to go
up," he said. "I was kind of reluctant to go up but it made me
feel good."The Yankees broke the game open with three runs off Todd Jones
in the seventh. Soriano hit a two-run triple and scored on Derek
Jeter's infield single."We needed to win today," Torre said. "Even if you're in
first place, you lose confidence somewhat when someone beats you up
the way they did the last couple of days."
Burkett has allowed 15 runs in his first inning over his
last seven appearances. ... Burkett allowed four runs and 10 hits
in 5 1-3 innings, just the third loss for a Boston starter in 18
decisions since June 4. ... Pettitte is 13-4 in his career against
Boston, including a win in the 1999 ALCS. ... Boston SS Nomar
Garciaparra went 0-for-4 and is 1-for-13 in the series.