BOSTON (AP) -- The Red Sox ended their home season in typical
fashion with another brilliant performance by Curt Schilling and
another bench-clearing confrontation with the Yankees.
Schilling (21-6) allowed one hit in seven innings Sunday when
Boston beat New York 11-4 and knocked Kevin Brown out in the first
inning of his return from a broken hand.
The Red Sox (93-62) won 11 of 19 from the Yankees (97-65) to
take the season series for the first time in five years and cut New
York's AL East lead to 3½ games with one week to play.
"We probably play them too much," Boston's Johnny Damon said
with a smile. "There's too much anxiety brewing."
In the bottom half, New York pitcher Brad Halsey and manager Joe
Torre were ejected after Halsey threw a pitch high and tight to
Dave Roberts, causing the benches and bullpens to clear. Players
were kept apart.
"Tensions run high when we play the Red Sox, but I don't think
it affects the way we play," said Halsey, who denied throwing at
Schilling, who leads the major leagues in wins, is 12-1 at
Fenway this season, the first since Boston acquired him from
Arizona. He's won eight straight decisions for the first time in
his major league career.
"Our offense took a lot of suspense out of this game early,"
Boston scored four runs in the first off Brown (10-5), who got
just two outs, then made it 7-0 in the second against Esteban
Loaiza, who allowed seven runs in 4 2/3 innings.
After losing Friday's opener, Boston won the last two games. A
week earlier, the Red Sox won on Friday in New York then lost the
next two by 10 runs each.
"It's a heated rivalry," Roberts said. "There's respect
between the teams, but there's definitely no love lost."
The Red Sox have seven games left and likely will wind up with
the AL wild-card berth -- they led Anaheim by six games starting
play Sunday. They could meet the Yankees for the second straight
year in the AL championship series.
"It's like a disagreement in a family," New York manager Joe
Torre said. "You address it, it's over with and you go on loving
Schilling struck out six and matched his season-high with four
walks. He retired his first 10 batters, then walked the next three
in the fourth, when he allowed a two-run single up the middle to
Jorge Posada that made it 7-2.
"I should have caught that ball," said Schilling, who blamed
himself for the walks. "I threw 12 straight balls and I only
thought one was a strike. Last time I did it, it was the umpire's
fault. This time, it wasn't."
Astacio relieved to start the eighth and was ejected when he
threw his second pitch behind Lofton, who was involved in the
game's first dispute when he elbowed first baseman Doug
Mientkiewicz on a groundout to second in the third inning.
"It happened in Cleveland, too," when Lofton played there,
Mientkiewicz said. "There's 700 players in the league. For some
reason, he's the only one I get elbowed by."
"I was trying to get out of the way," Lofton said. "I said to
him, `Why don't you get out of the way?' "
Brown made his first appearance since Sept. 3, when he broke his
left hand when he punched a clubhouse wall after leaving a 3-1 loss
to Baltimore. On Sunday, his pitching hand was the problem.
After Brown retired leadoff hitter Damon, he allowed hits to the
next five batters. Mark Bellhorn singled, Manny Ramirez doubled and
both scored on David Ortiz's double. Trot Nixon doubled in Ortiz
and scored on Varitek's single for a 4-0 lead.
"The only way you're going to find out about Brownie is to put
him out there," said Torre, who is trying to decide whether to
include him in his playoff rotation and plans to use him later this
week. Ramirez hit a sacrifice fly in the second and Varitek had an RBI
infield single, with another run scoring on a throwing error by
shortstop Derek Jeter.
Bill Mueller homered for the Red Sox and Andy Phillips for the
Yankees, the first hit of his major league career.
Because of Hurricane Jeanne, the Red Sox delayed their
flight to Florida until Monday morning. They open a three-game
series Monday night against Tampa Bay. ... The Red Sox, who drew a
record 2,837,304 at Fenway, completed their home schedule by
selling out all 81 games. The only other teams to do that were
Cleveland (1996 through 2000), Colorado (1996) and San Francisco
(2000). ... The Red Sox are 23-22 against New York from the start
of last season, including the playoffs. ... Boston's 55-26 home
record is the second best in the majors behind the Yankees (54-24).