NEW YORK - Had enough of the Yankees, having seen them five times in the last seven days?
The sentiment is understandable, unless you're Manny Ramírez, who has reason to mourn because he won't see the Bombers again until Fourth of July weekend.
Ramírez, who hits the Yankees as if he were still at George Washington High in Washington Heights and playing James Monroe High in the Bronx, hit home runs in his first two at-bats, the second a high, arcing drive deep into the left-field seats, and singled and scored in the fifth inning of a 7-5 Red Sox win before 55,088 at Yankee Stadium. Ramírez is five home runs from joining the momentous 500 club, and has more home runs (55) against the Yankees than any other opponent.
According to Greg Rybarczyk, the for mer US Navy engineer from Ayer, Mass., who has made it his business to know these things, Ramírez's second home run off Yankees pitcher Mike Mussina traveled 426 feet and would have cleared a 10-story building - at its apex, it reached 107 feet. The one he hit Saturday in Fenway Park against Mussina, who has given up more home runs (9) to Ramírez than any other pitcher except Jamie Moyer (10), actually went even higher (109 feet), but traveled a tad shorter (413 feet).
"Pretty good, huh?" said Josh Beckett, who went eight innings to become the first Sox starter to pitch at least seven on a night the bullpen needed the rest, with manager Terry Francona having used no fewer than four pitchers in each of the last eight games, five pitchers five times. "Hopefully, he'll invite me to his Hall of Fame speech."
The Sox, who banged out a season-high 14 hits and lost Wednesday night, kept on hitting last night, rapping out 13 against Mussina and three relievers. Every Sox player in the lineup had at least one hit, except still-slumping David Ortiz and leadoff man Jacoby Ellsbury, who became the hittee instead of the hitter. Ellsbury was hit by a pitch in his first two plate appearances, stole second on the next pitch each time, rushed Chad Moeller into a throwing error on his second attempt, and jump-started the Sox' four-run rally in the third.
Sore-toed Kevin Youkilis had two hits and scored twice; J.D. Drew had two hits, including a two-run double; and Jason Varitek and Dustin Pedroia also had two hits apiece, each driving in a run.
The Sox, who come home to face Texas after taking three of four from the Indians and Yankees on this mini-trip, ended a five-game losing streak in the Bronx. They split the two-game set after taking two of three from the Yankees in Fenway Park last weekend.
The Yankees, who scored 15 runs Wednesday, the most allowed by the Sox on the road in almost two years, didn't hit with the same vigor last night, Beckett stepping up to single-handedly dissuade them of the notion they would have their way with Boston pitching on back-to-back nights.
Beckett limited the Yankees to one inning of scoring - they parlayed a walk, Johnny Damon double, Derek Jeter single, and Bobby Abreu double into three runs in the fifth - and ignored an invitation to ratchet up the temperature of this rivalry after Kyle Farnsworth threw a 95-mile-per-hour-plus fastball in the direction of Ramírez's head with his first pitch of the seventh. Ramírez ducked out of harm's way, but a few Sox moved to the top of the dugout steps after that impolitic pitch, which drew a warning from plate umpire Larry Vanover.
Asked about the pained expression on his face when it happened, Francona said, "I had gas. I was just glad it didn't hit Manny. A 98 at your lips is going to hurt."
But instead of exercising the ancient, and at times absurd, code of slugger for slugger, dust to dust, Beckett stuck to business, setting down the last 10 Yankees he faced without once making a hitter quake in his spikes. (Had he thrown at anyone, it would have been an automatic ejection.)
The only player to hit the deck was Beckett himself, who sprawled face-first in the grass in an attempt to collar Alex Rodriguez's slow roller. Pedroia finished the bang-bang play with a strong throw that just nipped A-Rod.
What did he think of Farnsworth's pitch? "I've got nothing," Beckett said with a shrug, while Ramírez said he had no issue with it.
Beckett, who set down the first seven Yankees before Melky Cabrera's single with one out in the third, may have done his most impressive pitching in the fourth, after one-out singles by Abreu and A-Rod. Beckett, who struck out five, whiffed Jason Giambi on a 96-m.p.h. fastball, then caught Jorge Posada looking at a heartbreaker of a curveball.
Ramírez led off the second with his first home run of the night to give the Sox a 1-0 lead. His turn came again in the third, after Ellsbury - who has yet to be caught in 13 stolen base attempts in the big leagues - easily stole second on a pitchout (!) and coasted into third when Moeller's throw sailed into the outfield. Pedroia singled him home, and after a force play, Ramírez launched his majestic drive deep into the lower deck in left.
Last night, he passed Lou Gehrig and Fred McGriff for 24th place on the all-time home run list; dead ahead is Eddie Murray, the Hall of Famer and his former teammate in Cleveland.
Getting excited by 500? "Why, I'm going to hit 600," Ramírez said in what is becoming a standard refrain.
Singles by Youkilis, Drew, and Varitek made it 5-0 as Yankees manager Joe Girardi, who'd used up his bullpen the night before and is missing Joba Chamberlain (tending to his ailing father), left Mussina in to absorb a beating.
The Sox scored twice more in the fifth to make it 7-0, Drew's double into the right-center gap scoring Ramírez and Youkilis, who had singled.
Jonathan Papelbon replaced Beckett in the ninth and struck out Giambi, making it 14 outs out of 17 in which he has registered a whiff. Posada doubled and took third on a wild pitch, then scored on Robinson Cano's roller to short. Cabrera momentarily lifted hometown hopes by taking Papelbon deep on a 2-and-0 pitch to make it 7-5, but Papelbon caught pinch hitter Hideki Matsui looking to end it.
Gordon Edes can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.