As much as the Red Sox relished thumping the Yankees, they took special satisfaction from the outings of two key pitchers who recently have struggled, Keith Foulke and Tim Wakefield.
Foulke, who surrendered ninth-inning homers in his last three outings and blew his last two save opportunities, entered with two out in the eighth inning and runners on first and second in a 5-5 tie. Foulke extinguished the threat by getting Jorge Posada, who already had knocked in four runs, to ground out.
"It feels real good," Foulke said. "They weren't two of the best pitches I made all year but we got an out and the guys went out in the bottom half and do what they do."
After the Sox scored seven runs in the bottom of the inning, Foulke returned in the ninth even though it was not a save situation and retired the Yankees in order.
"I'm still fighting myself a little bit, but it's nice to be able to go back out in the ninth and have a little room to work and try to work out of this funk," he said. "I need to get out there and work it out on the game mound. It helped me get going in the right direction."
Foulke said his back, which troubled him last month, has not bothered him during his recent struggles.
"I just went through a stretch where I didn't pitch a whole lot and I kind of lost my groove," he said. "It's one of those things where I need to get back out there and get my mechanics in order and start to get a lot more people out."
Wakefield, who had gone 0-3 with a 9.45 ERA in his previous four starts, said he benefited partly from working during the week with retired knuckleballer Charlie Hough. Wakefield allowed five runs (three earned) over 6 1/3 innings.
"It's nice to talk to somebody who did what I'm doing for such a long time," Wakefield said. "He gave me a lot of confidence. He watched me throw and just made some minor adjustments on me that got me kind of back on track a little bit."
No advantage seen
With the Yankees inching close to clinching the division, the Sox face the prospect of ceding the home-field advantage in the postseason.
They would much prefer to begin the playoffs at Fenway Park, where they have rolled up the second-best home record in the majors (54-26). The Yankees are 54-24 at home.
But the Sox feel much better about their chances on the road than they did a month ago. Since Aug. 7, the Sox have gone 13-5 on the road to improve their record to 38-36.
"We needed to do that or we wouldn't be where we are," manager Terry Francona said. "Regardless of where we end up or who we play, we have to play good baseball. I wish we could play all our games here, but they're probably not going to let that happen."
The Yankees plan to activate righthander Kevin Brown from the disabled list today to face Curt Schilling in the series finale. Brown, who fractured his left hand punching a wall after his last start Sept. 3 against the Orioles, had a couple of memorable pitching duels with Schilling in the National League . . . The Sox are scheduled to depart after today's game for Tampa and a three-game series against the Devil Rays, but they expect their plans to hinge on Hurricane Jeanne, which was expected to strike Florida today. The Devil Rays pushed up last night's game against the Blue Jays and set a curfew of 9 p.m. for the final inning to begin as the storm approached. They also canceled today's game. The Sox are prepared to fly early Monday if necessary. Tampa Bay manager Lou Piniella, whose team took some heat when its travel to New York was affected by Hurricane Frances, told reporters in referring to the Sox, "It would be a shame if they had to fly in the day of the game." . . . Scott Williamson is one of the key pitchers on the bubble as the Sox begin to make plans for a playoff roster. "We're right in the middle of a pennant race," Francona said, "and we have some very valuable people on this team who we don't know yet whether they're healthy enough or are back to where they were." Francona said he plans to speak with the players this week . . . Grounds director Dave Mellor, already the author of "The Lawn Bible," is part of a new book, "The Experts' Guide to 100 Things Everyone Should Know How to Do." Mellor's chapter: How to mow a lawn.
Francona was ejected for the third time this season as he tried to convince the umpires they erred when they allowed Bernie Williams to score from first on a ground-rule double to right field by Posada in the sixth inning. "I just didn't think they were as coordinated as they needed to be," Francona said of the umps. "I just thought Trot [Nixon] needed a chance to throw somebody out and I don't think he got that chance." Bench coach Brad Mills served as interim manager . . . The win gave the Sox 10 or more wins in a season against the Yankees for the first time since they went 11-5 in 1975. It also was the first victory over the Yankees in nine games in September since 1998. The Sox also recorded a 54th home win for the first time since they went 59-23 at Fenway in 1978 . . . The Sox enjoyed a clubhouse visit before the game by Nelson De La Rosa, a Dominican actor who accompanied Pedro Martinez. De La Rosa, who stands about 2 feet, 4 inches, is considered the world's shortest actor. He appeared in the film, "The Island of Dr. Moreau."