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Red Sox end Yanks' postseason10/21/2004 2:34 AM ET
By Mark Feinsand / MLB.com
NEW YORK -- Not even Babe Ruth could help the Yankees on Wednesday night.
The Red Sox are headed to the World Series for the first time since 1986, as Boston defeated New York, 10-3, in Game 7 of the American League Championship Series.
"Really, I never thought this would happen," said Derek Jeter. "We had so much confidence going in, but were never overconfident. We never took things for granted. It just got away from us. I can't explain it."
Johnny Damon belted two home runs, including a game-breaking grand slam in the second, as the Red Sox exploded for eight runs in the first four innings to blow the game wide open.
Kevin Brown was charged with five runs in just 1 1/3 innings, taking the crowd -- and the Yankees -- out of the game right away. Javier Vazquez wasn't much better, allowing both of Damon's home runs during his two innings of work.
"We always respected their ballclub," said manager Joe Torre. "We knew they had a ton of ability. The fact that when they get on a roll, they can do things like they do to us."
Derek Lowe, pitching on two days' rest after an 88-pitch performance in Game 4, allowed one run on one hit over six innings, giving the Red Sox a gutty performance to match Curt Schilling's outing in Game 6.
Boston is the first team in baseball history to overcome a 3-0 deficit to win a best-of-seven postseason series. The Red Sox are also just the third team in professional sports history to accomplish the feat, joining the 1942 Toronto Maple Leafs and 1975 New York Islanders of the NHL.
"Being up 3-0 and not being able to put the knockout punch, that hurts," said Alex Rodriguez, whose first season in pinstripes ends in ultimate disappointment. "That fact that it wasn't a close game and we really didn't have an opportunity down the stretch, that even makes it more frustrating that we were so close."
The Red Sox will now face either the St. Louis Cardinals or the Houston Astros, who will square off in Game 7 of the NLCS on Thursday night at Busch Stadium.
Brown didn't have much on the mound, and it was evident early. Damon opened the game with a single, then stole second. With one out, Manny Ramirez singled to left, but Derek Jeter's relay throw home from Hideki Matsui beat the runner, giving the home crowd a big lift.
Ortiz didn't let the crowd celebrate for long, crushing the next pitch over the right-field wall to put the Sox ahead, 2-0. Ortiz was named the series MVP.
"I'd give anything -- short of my family's health -- to be able to go back out there and give them what this team expected from me," Brown said. "They're a great team. If you can't make your pitches, they're going to make you pay for it. Lowe held the momentum on the Boston side by retiring the Yankees in order in the first, allowing the Sox's offense to go back to work.
Brown allowed a one-out single by Kevin Millar, then walked Bill Mueller and Orlando Cabrera to load the bases. Torre gave Brown a quick hook, hoping that Vazquez would be able to stop the bleeding.
Damon turned on Vazquez's first pitch of the game, drilling it over the right-field wall for a grand slam, as the Red Sox took a commanding 6-0 lead.
"When you come out of the bullpen, hitters are probably looking for a first-pitch fastball," Vazquez said. "With the location of it, it was just a terrible pitch."
Lowe gave one back in the third, hitting Miguel Cairo with a pitch with one out. Cairo stole second base, then scored on Jeter's RBI single. The stadium had some life to it, but a comeback wasn't in the cards for the Yankees, as A-Rod and Gary Sheffield grounded out to end the inning.
Damon boosted the lead to 8-1 with his second homer off Vazquez, a two-run shot in the fourth.
"We've been down before," said Jeter, alluding to the team's 61 regular-season comeback wins. "The thing that hurt us is, a couple of times we did score, they came right back to score again. When you fall behind early, you try to hold the other team so you can come back."
Lowe continued to cruise, retiring 11 in a row after Jeter's RBI single in the third. After striking out Sheffield to end the sixth, Lowe's day was done, as he was congratulated by his teammates in the dugout.
"He pitched the type of ballgame they needed him to pitch," Tony Clark said. "Once they got him some runs on the board, he continued to throw strikes. He did what he needed to do to put his team in a position to win."
Pedro Martinez started the seventh, evoking loud chants of "Who's your daddy?" from the crowd. New York mounted a mini-rally, as Bernie Williams and Kenny Lofton each drove in runs, but Martinez struck out pinch-hitter John Olerud and got Cairo to fly out, holding the lead at five. Just six outs away from the pennant, Mike Timlin came in to face the top of the order. Jeter, A-Rod and Sheffield went down quickly, moving the game to the ninth.
"We started off hot offensively and we pitched well. It seemed like after we lost the first game, it got away from us," Sheffield said. "They pitched us backwards. Before, they tried to get strike one and we were jumping on it. Now, they threw us a lot of breaking balls, pitches off the plate to get us to chase. You have to tip your cap."
"Those guys kept playing the way we used to play," Williams said. "They have two great horses in Manny and David, but the rest of the team are tough outs, too. They gave our pitchers a run for their money. They just weren't going to be beaten."
This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.
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