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Yanks open quickly, hold on for win10/13/2004 2:27 AM ET
By Mark Feinsand / MLB.com
NEW YORK -- The Yankees were considered the underdogs heading into the American League Championship Series, but Tuesday night, New York showed the world why it shouldn't be counted out just yet.
After taking an 8-0 lead, the Yankees held off a furious challenge by the Red Sox, as New York came away with a 10-7 victory in Game 1 of the ALCS at Yankee Stadium.
New York leads the best-of-seven series, 1-0, with Game 2 scheduled for Wednesday night in the Bronx.
"It's not supposed to be easy," said Mike Mussina, who took a perfect game into the seventh inning. "It's Yankees-Red Sox."
Boston's Curt Schilling allowed six runs in just three innings, his shortest outing of the season. On the other side, Mussina retired the first 19 Red Sox hitters before Mark Bellhorn broke up the perfect game bid with a double.
In the end, the game came down to Mariano Rivera, who arrived at the ballpark in the second inning after flying back to New York from Panama, where he attended the funeral of two family members earlier in the day.
Rivera got a crucial out in the eighth to leave the tying run at third base, then, after the Yankees scored twice in the bottom of the inning, the closer finished off Boston with a scoreless ninth.
"Believe me, I wanted to stay home and stay with my family," Rivera said. "But I have a job to do, and I have 24 players that were waiting for me and a manager that are happy for me to be here. I'm happy to be here, also. It went well."
Hideki Matsui tied an ALCS record with five RBIs, while Bernie Williams drove in three and Gary Sheffield scored four runs. The top four hitters in the Yankees' lineup went 9-for-18 (.500) and scored nine of the team's 10 runs.
New York plated two runs in the first against Schilling with RBI hits by Matsui and Williams. Schilling ran into more trouble in the third. Derek Jeter and Alex Rodriguez led off the inning with singles, then Schilling walked Sheffield to load the bases.
Matsui didn't waste any time, belting the first pitch off the right-field wall, clearing the bases with his second double of the day. Jorge Posada added a sac fly later in the inning to score Matsui, as the Yankees took a commanding 6-0 lead.
"We wanted to have some quality at-bats, try to be patient and get some good pitches to hit," Jeter said. "We swung the bats extremely well."
Schilling left the game after three innings and 58 pitches, charged with six runs on six hits and two walks.
"The Yankees beat me tonight," Schilling said. "We're going to take the loss. But they beat me tonight. The bell rang and I couldn't answer it."
"He's a great pitcher and we have a great offense," said A-Rod. "It was a great battle."
Mussina, unlike his Boston counterpart, had little trouble with the opposing lineup, sitting the Sox down in order in each of the first three innings. He then breezed through the fourth, getting Johnny Damon, Bellhorn and Manny Ramirez to all look at a called third strike. Mussina kept his perfect game alive through six, retiring David Ortiz, Kevin Millar and Trot Nixon.
"Those were the best six innings I've thrown all year," Mussina said. "I went out and was able to focus on what I wanted to do. Stuff, location, curveball -- they were all good. And I kept throwing hard."
Boston went down in order again in the sixth, while New York added two runs to its lead. One came on a solo home run by Kenny Lofton, another on an RBI single by Matsui.
"Matsui's been a rock all year for us," Rodriguez said. "He lays in the weeds, but then he comes up with some humongous hits. He's done it all year, and he's continuing it now."
With an eight-run lead and the game seemingly in hand, the only drama left in the Bronx was whether Mussina would be able to make history. He struck out Damon to open the seventh, bringing him just eight outs away from joining Don Larsen as the only pitchers to throw no-hitters in the postseason. But Bellhorn ripped an 0-2 fastball to left-center, breaking up the gem with a double.
Mussina got Ramirez to ground out for the second out, but Ortiz singled, then Millar doubled in two runs to put the Sox on the board. Nixon followed with an RBI single, forcing Mussina from the game, as the 56,135 in attendance gave him a standing ovation.
"You just keep battling and hoping he makes a mistake," Millar said. "He didn't make many of them tonight. He threw a great game. You tip your hat to Mussina."
Tanyon Sturtze relieved Mussina, promptly serving up a two-run home run to Varitek, as the Sox cut the lead to 8-5.
Mussina, who pitched much better than his final line indicated, allowed four runs on four hits in 6 2/3 innings, earning his first victory in five postseason series openers as a Yankee.
"I was disappointed in myself that I couldn't get the third out," Mussina said. "It shouldn't have come to that in the seventh, but I made some mistakes and they took advantage. That's the nature of the game sometimes."
Tom Gordon allowed a leadoff single in the eighth, then another two outs later. That brought Ortiz to the plate as the tying run, and the MVP candidate drilled a triple off the wall in left-center, scoring two runs to make it a one-run game.
"It took, what, 20 minutes to go from a perfect game to 8-7," Jeter said. "That's why we play nine innings. You never know what's going to happen."
"It was like it was too good to be true," Torre said of the early lead. "Each game is going to be an emotional roller-coaster, there's no question."
Rivera, who strolled into the bullpen in the bottom of the fifth inning after arriving directly from the airport, replaced Gordon with two outs in the eighth, getting Millar to pop out to Jeter to end the inning, stranding Ortiz at third base.
"He's been the most impressive teammate that I've had in my 10 years in the big leagues," Rodriguez said of Rivera. "He's a guy we love and feel for. Today's performance, I've never seen anything like that."
Williams gave Rivera some breathing room in the ninth, doubling in two runs against Mike Timlin in the eighth.
That was plenty for the All-Star closer, who earned his first save of the postseason, extending his own big league record to 31.
"I was coming here to pitch," Rivera said. "I wouldn't be on site if I wouldn't pitch today. I wanted to pitch, wanted to be there. My teammates, they needed me there."
"I don't think anyone ever expected a game like this," Jeter said. "This is what makes it fun."
This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.
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