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Archive for Wednesday, April 6, 2005

Jeter bails out Rivera, Yanks

Home run in ninth sends Red Sox to defeat

April 6, 2005

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— One minute, Mariano Rivera was bent over on the mound in disgust. The next, the Yankees were piling on Derek Jeter at home plate.

After a surprising blowout in the season opener, New York and Boston got right back to playing exhilarating baseball.

Jeter's ninth-inning homer gave the Yankees a 4-3 victory Tuesday and bailed out Rivera after the All-Star closer blew yet another lead against the Red Sox.

"We escaped today," New York manager Joe Torre said. "Mariano is still the best in the game as far as I'm concerned. That doesn't mean that clubs aren't going to get to him once in awhile. These guys we're playing are the world champs."

Jason Varitek's homer off Rivera tied the score in the ninth. But Jeter led off the bottom half and drove Keith Foulke's 3-2 pitch over the right-field fence, giving the Yankees their second consecutive victory over Boston to begin the season.

"Just a bad pitch to the wrong guy," Foulke said. "I kind of thought he popped it up and he did, but he hit it a lot farther than I thought."

Jeter also wasn't sure if he got enough until the ball cleared the fence. He said it was only the second game-ending homer of his career -- the other came in Game 4 of the 2001 World Series against Arizona.

But the Yankees captain took no extra satisfaction in spoiling Boston's day.

"We're trying to win. It doesn't matter who we're playing," Jeter said.

Carl Pavano dazzled in his New York debut, Hideki Matsui hit his second home run in two games, and the Yankees handed a 3-2 lead to Rivera, who blew just four saves during the regular season last year but three in the playoffs.

After Rivera struck out Edgar Renteria to start the ninth, Varitek lined a 1-2 pitch over the right-field fence, costing Pavano a victory.

Varitek pumped his fist as he rounded first base while Rivera shouted in frustration, a rare display of emotion. Surely he was recalling the leads he didn't protect against Boston in last year's AL championship series.

"I'm a human being. I bleed. I'm not a machine," Rivera said.

The Yankees were three outs from a four-game sweep when the Red Sox rallied against Rivera in Game 4 at Fenway Park, erasing a one-run deficit. They won that game in 12 innings, then came back against Rivera and his bullpen mates the next night, too.

Boston won the AL pennant in Game 7 at Yankee Stadium and went on to its first World Series title in 86 years.

Two of Rivera's blown saves during the regular season were against the Red Sox: He was 0-2 with a 4.22 earned-run average in nine appearances.

"I don't think we take the air out of him. He still has that confidence," Boston's Johnny Damon said.

Angels 3, Rangers 2

Anaheim, Calif. -- Vladimir Guerrero hit a solo homer in the first inning and doubled home a run in the sixth, and Bengie Molina singled home another in the seventh inning to lead Los Angeles.

Bartolo Colon held the Rangers to one run over 62/3 innings for the Angels, playing their first regular-season game with Los Angeles instead of Anaheim in front of their name.

Twins 8, Mariners 4

Seattle -- Jacque Jones hit a two-run home run, and Minnesota Twins survived an ugly start by Cy Young winner Johan Santana to beat Seattle.

The Twins collected 14 hits on the night, and they batted around and scored seven runs in the fifth inning. Minnesota used seven singles -- four off Mariners starter Gil Meche -- and Jones' shot into the right-field stands for a 7-4 lead. It made a winner of Santana, who won 20 games and led the AL with a 2.61 ERA last season but didn't look himself right away.

The Twins trailed 4-0 in the first after Adrian Beltre's two-run double, Richie Sexson's RBI double and a one-out RBI single by Raul Ibanez.

Blue Jays 6, Devil Rays 3

St. Petersburg, Fla. -- Shea Hillenbrand's bases-loaded single snapped a sixth-inning tie and helped promising young left-hander Gustavo Chacin lead Toronto over Tampa Bay. Chacin allowed two singles and Alex Gonzalez's solo homer in five innings.

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