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DAN SHAUGHNESSY

Working on perfect game

NEW YORK -- You will wake up today and gaze in the mirror and you will look like Brad Pitt (Cameron Diaz if you are a woman). Your front lawn will resemble the 18th green at Augusta and there will be a Cadillac Escalade in your driveway. There won't be a cloud in the sky, there will be no traffic on the roads, and the toll booths all will be gone on the Mass. Pike.

You are a Red Sox fan on April 25, 2004, and that means your world is just about perfect. It's all flowers and red balloons and bright smiles and sunny days. And you can't wait until 1:05 today because you just know that Pedro Martinez is going to continue this sudden Sox mastery of the New York Yankees.

That's right. Mastery. Tracing the tracks of their tears from so many years, the Sox have traveled to the House That Ruth Built and whipped the Yankees two more times this weekend. Yesterday's 12-inning, 3-2 Boston victory means the Sons of Tito are a gaudy 5-1 over the Pinstripe People in these back-to-back weekends.

The Yankees are scuffling. The team with the highest payroll in baseball history ($185 million) can't buy a hit. The team with five guys who drove in 100 runs last year can't cross home plate. Even the Yankee bullpen, always better than Boston's, took a back seat to the Red Sox' relief corps yesterday. It is as if the hardball gods have conspired to reward the long-suffering Sox fans by making the Yankees the object of abject frustration.

Derek Jeter is 0 for his last 21, officially the longest slump of his big league career. Alex Rodriguez has finally wandered north of the Mendoza Line, but he was booed in the first inning when he hit a feeble comebacker to Bronson Arroyo. The Yankees are 8-10, tied for third place in the American League East with the Tampa Bay Devil Rays and four games behind the Red Sox in the loss column.

George Steinbrenner was not at the ballyard yesterday. He's reportedly in his bunker in Tampa, but the Yankee world awaits an explosion from the owner at any moment. The venerable Gotham tabloids are killing the Yanks, and Bronx fans have been booing when not insulting the locals with mock cheers. They're beginning to think Jose Contreras is an embedded Red Sox.

Yesterday the Sox were able to beat the Yankees on a day when Boston batters went 0 for 19 with runners in scoring position. The Sox beat the Yanks on three sacrifice flies. The Boston bullpen outpitched Mariano Rivera & Co.

"Their whole game, every facet of their game, has been almost flawless," said Rodriguez (did we mention that the Sox tried to get A-Rod over the winter?). "It was in Boston and it's been here. They've executed very well. Their bullpen has been one of their strengths. We're playing a good team over there in Boston and they're playing with a lot of energy."

The Yankees have a lot of new players, including Rodriguez, yesterday's starter Kevin Brown, and today's ace, Javier Vazquez (on three days' rest). Stars like Gary Sheffield and Kenny Lofton have gotten their first taste of the Boston-New York salad over the last two weekends, and the results have been less than satisfying.

Ultimately, of course, New Yorkers are depending on old hands Jeter, Bernie Williams, Jorge Posada, and manager Joe Torre to get them out of this funk. They are the ones who know.

"Things have a way of evening themselves out over the course of 162 games," Jeter said calmly in the losing locker room. "The season's not over. It's what, 19 games? [Actually 18.] Don't write the story of our season today.

"It is surprising that most of our people are scuffling at the same time. Without question we want to play better. We just have to forget about the game today and the game before and the games in Boston. You want to play well. You don't want to be swept, I don't care what level it is. We do have a lot of pride."

Torre, who has been in the Apple too long to take the apple, added, "Right now we're down in the valley. This is when you earn your money. A lot of things are working well, we're just not hitting. But there's no room for sympathy in this game. We have to come out tomorrow and face a great pitcher. We're too talented up and down the lineup to expect this to last."

Good for them. They can say whatever they want. But you are a Red Sox fan on April 25, 2004, and nothing's going to change your world. You are going to eat all the brownies and ice cream you want and still look like Brad Pitt (Cameron Diaz if you are a woman). You are going to win the lottery and quit your job. The road is going to rise to meet you and the wind is going to be at your back and the Red Sox are going to keep beating the Yankees from here to October.

Dan Shaughnessy is a Globe columnist. His e-mail address is dshaughnessy@globe.com.

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