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Lowell: NY was my school of hard knocks

Mike Lowell beats Robinson Cano to the punch, using his body in an attempt to end the play. (MATTHEW J. LEE/GLOBE STAFF)

The answer was perfectly political, a bit of a "so there" to the other clubhouse.

Not two weeks after Alex Rodriguez broke up a double play with a questionable slide into Dustin Pedroia (Rodriguez later apologized), Mike Lowell shifted blame right back to the Yankees on a similarly questionable play yesterday in the Red Sox' 11-6 win, on a Jason Varitek grounder in the fourth.

On the play, one of two collisions in the game for the suddenly linebacker-like Lowell, he stopped in Yankees second baseman Robinson Cano's path as he attempted to tag Lowell and then throw to first base. But, and here is the curious part, Lowell appeared to lift his shoulder slightly in Cano's direction.

"My take is it's kind of ironic, because that's what they taught us in the minor leagues, and I was with the Yankees in the minor leagues," said Lowell. "We had two rules: You can never peel off, you had to slide no matter if you had to slide halfway; and if the second baseman tried to tag you, you did everything in your power to not let him get rid of the ball. I'm not throwing an elbow or anything, but I'm trying to make him not be able to throw the ball."

"Everyone's going to question it," Kevin Youkilis said. "I mean, we're in the questioning center of the world here, in the Northeast. Yankees fans are going to hate it. Red Sox fans are going to love it. That's just how it is."

But, while that play was raising controversy in the Yankees' clubhouse, another play was raising concern. During a wild seventh inning, Lowell hit a grounder to Cano, who shoveled it to shortstop Derek Jeter for a potential double play. Jeter's throw, though, wasn't on target to first baseman Doug Mientkiewicz. And, as Mientkiewicz leaned back to scoop the ball, his head made solid contact with the onrushing Lowell.

Mientkiewicz hit the dirt, with trainers rushing to assist him. He appeared dazed and was sent to Massachusetts General Hospital for tests, which revealed injuries to his head and wrist. Mienkiewicz was kept overnight and will be placed on the disabled list today.

" I felt like I hit him with my thigh or my hip," Lowell said. "I guess something twisted around, I don't know if his head hit the floor or what.

"I feel bad for Doug. You don't want anything like that happening. We go way back, I mean, I played against him when I was 15 years old in high school. We hit together this offseason, and I've got a lot of respect for him."

It wasn't a first for Lowell this season. On May 2, Lowell banged into Oakland's Mike Piazza in an attempt to tag him out at third base. Lowell got Piazza out on the play and onto the DL with a sprained right shoulder.

The two key plays yesterday obscured another explosive offensive performance from Lowell, especially on the heels of being taken out of Friday night's game after being hit on the left hand by a Chien-Ming Wang pitch. To protect that injury, trainers devised a pad for Lowell to wear -- something he said he should have worn after breaking the hand in 2003 -- that used the end of a toe guard.

Lowell, in pushing his batting average to .337, had a fourth-inning RBI single, a sixth-inning solo home run into the Monster seats, and an eighth-inning RBI double. (He also claimed an RBI on the play on which Mientkiewicz was injured.)

Still, most of the questions directed at Lowell concerned the play involving Cano.

"It's a clean play," Lowell said. "They taught me how to do it.

"They're trying to win, we're trying to win. I don't think anything's been done wrong in this game. If you're playing hard, you're playing hard."

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