Let it rock: Yanks sweep aside Sox
Damon, Teixeira go back-to-back in eighth-inning rally
NEW YORK -- The Yankees have waited all season for their new palace to rock like home, echoing with the concrete-rippling thunder that used to make the experience so intimidating for opponents across the street.
They glanced into the triple-decked wonder this weekend and could agree: the energy is back. Johnny Damon and Mark Teixeira pumped the volume with back-to-back eighth inning home runs as the Yankees rallied for a 5-2 win and an emotional four-game sweep of the Red Sox.
As Teixeira watched his go-ahead shot off Daniel Bard soar high into the night sky, he carried his bat down to first base, casting it aside when the drive stayed fair. The fourth sellout crowd of the weekend erupted into a frenzy, serenading the falling Red Sox with chants of "Sweep! Sweep!"
"That's Yankee Stadium for you," Teixeira said. "This place hasn't been around as much as the old one, but I remember being a part of a few games as a visitor. It felt like the place was shaking. It was kind of that feeling tonight."
The late rally came after Victor Martinez had snapped a 31-inning scoreless streak with a two-run homer off Phil Coke in the eighth. Damon crushed a fastball for his 21st homer before Teixeira put the Bombers ahead, teeing off on a Bard curveball for his American League-leading 29th round-tripper.
Nick Swisher provided cushion with a two-run single off Hideki Okajima, and Mariano Rivera locked down the ninth inning for his American League-leading 32nd save. The heroics created a thumping Stadium atmosphere that the Yankees, now a season-best 27 games over .500, could relish.
"There was a little extra buzz this time, and it seemed to get increased every day," Yankees manager Joe Girardi said. "Four huge games, and we were able to come out on top in all of them. This place was alive."
"It was a postseason series," said Andy Pettitte, who hurled seven scoreless innings in arguably his best start of the year. "It really did feel like that. The fans were just unbelievably into it and have always been fired up. There was just a lot of excitement."
New York's lead in the AL East ballooned to 6 1/2 games over the fading Sox, an advantage of historical significance -- the Yankees have never lost a division lead of more than six games.
"There's still a long way to go," Yankees shortstop Derek Jeter said. "We were fortunate that they came here this particular series when we're playing well. We've got to continue it, because there's a lot of games left."
While the roaring crowd searched for brooms and taunted their Boston counterparts -- outscored 25-8 in the series -- onto the drizzly city streets, the Yankees were careful not to brag about crushing the Red Sox, who now see life through the prism of being tied with the Rangers for the AL Wild Card.
Girardi pointed to Boston's experience in coming back from deficits -- hello, 2004 -- and said that he expects the division to go "right down to the end," feeling more surprised than comfortable. But they intend to enjoy it as long as it lasts.
"We felt like we were a different club," Pettitte said. "I felt confident that I was going to pitch well if I threw in this series against the Red Sox. It was just one of those things. They'd won eight in a row, but there was nothing we could do about that.
"We had a great series, there's no doubt about it. We separated ourselves a little bit from them, and hopefully we can keep the pedal to the metal and playing like we are."
Alex Rodriguez gave the Yankees the lead against Boston starter Jon Lester with career home run No. 574 in the seventh inning, moving him past Harmon Killebrew for sole possession of ninth place on baseball's all-time list and coming in support of Pettitte's seven shutout innings.
But Martinez -- who began his first Red Sox-Yankees series with a 1-for-14 showing -- got to Coke for a long drive to left field with Dustin Pedroia aboard, bringing home Boston's first runs since the ninth inning on Thursday.
"That Red Sox team is a very good team," Damon said. "For our pitchers to shut them down for as long as they did, it says something about our pitching staff. I know Phil Coke was a bit disappointed, but he's going to come up big for us down the stretch."
It was a weekend marked by both A.J. Burnett and CC Sabathia stepping up in their respective coming out parties, whipping 7 2/3 scoreless frames each -- just the types of dominant performances the Yankees envisioned when they doled out $243.5 million in free agent dollars.
The 37-year-old Pettitte maintained the scoreless string -- the longest by Yankees pitchers against Boston since a 33-inning showing in Sept. 1952 -- by holding Boston to five hits and two walks while striking out four in a 112-pitch outing that saw him strand the bases loaded in the fourth inning.
"It just kind of feels that our pitching staff is almost having a competition within themselves," Swisher said. "It's like, 'Hey, I did this. What can you do today?' I think that's really helping us out. They're doing a tremendous job and this series was huge for us. I mean, it was big."
The Yankees had come home into the series handling questions about their 0-8 showing against Boston earlier in the season, which included a two-game sweep May 4 and 5 in the Bronx. The grounds were soggy then and so were the crowds, with the type of October frenzy seen this weekend still months away.
"We were on the other side of this for a while and we had some very tough losses," Girardi said. "To come out and win these four games like we did, and the great pitching that we had, and home runs from big players, everyone contributing ... it's a good feeling."
Bryan Hoch is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.