Sox, Ortiz spoil Damon’s return Mirabelli arrives in nick of time to catch Wakefield

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BOSTON (AP) – David Ortiz hit a three-run homer to ruin Johnny Damon’s return to Fenway Park, leading the Boston Red Sox over the New York Yankees 7-3 Monday night in the first game of the season between the two rivals.

Fans chanted “Johnny! Johnny!” after the Yankees center fielder watched helplessly from a few feet away as Ortiz’s 11th homer sailed into the Red Sox bullpen in the eighth.

Damon couldn’t do much with the previous batter either. He could only trot in to pick up Mark Loretta’s single that broke a tie in the four-run inning.

Booed each time he came to the plate, Damon, who bolted to the other side of baseball’s biggest rivalry as a free agent, went 0-for-4.

It was a bad night for another former Red Sox player. Mike Myers, Boston’s lefty specialist last year, entered the game after the single by Loretta, who had been in a 1-for-17 slump, and gave up Ortiz’s drive on a full count into a strong wind.

Another returning player who had a more pleasant night was Boston catcher Doug Mirabelli, reacquired earlier Monday from San Diego where he had been traded for Loretta last December. Boston obtained him to resume his role as knuckleballer Tim Wakefield’s personal catcher after Josh Bard, who went to the Padres, had 10 passed balls in Wakefield’s four previous starts.

Mirabelli also went 0-for-4 but didn’t have a passed ball and threw out a runner trying to steal.

Mike Timlin (3-0) got the win with help from Jonathan Papelbon, who retired the side in order in the ninth with two strikeouts. Aaron Small (0-1) took the loss after going 10-0 for the Yankees last season.

Before the game, Damon, who spent the past four seasons with Boston, said, “I’m just really excited about taking the field” and he wasn’t nervous.

The boos lasted 30 seconds when he stepped into the batter’s box to lead off the game before taking off his helmet and waving it to the crowd as the cheers and applause increased.

But when he was retired on an easy popup to right fielder Trot Nixon, the crowd roared when he reached second and turned back toward the visitors’ dugout. Damon was retired easily on his next three at-bats on a groundout to Wakefield, a popup to third and a groundout to second.

The fans appreciated Mirabelli’s return much more, giving him a loud ovation when his name was announced in the starting lineup. He arrived at Fenway Park just 13 minutes before the game after a long flight.

The Red Sox took a 1-0 lead in the first when Kevin Youkilis led off with a walk, took second on a groundout and scored on a single by Ortiz.

Wakefield allowed just a hit and a walk through three innings before falling behind 3-1 in the fourth. The Yankees loaded the bases with no outs on a single by Derek Jeter and walks to Jason Giambi and Alex Rodriguez.

Hideki Matsui’s groundout to first baseman Youkilis drove in one run and Robinson Cano singled in two.

Boston tied it in the fourth when Alex Cora and Youkilis singled before Loretta bunted into a forceout at third. Ortiz loaded the bases with a single before Manny Ramirez singled in one run and Nixon tied it with an RBI-groundout to first.

In the eighth, Cora walked and Youkilis was hit by a pitch before Loretta’s single to Damon broke the tie.

Notes: Mirabelli threw out Miguel Cairo trying to steal on a pitchout in the third. At San Diego, Mirabelli threw out two of six players attempting to steal. … Small pitched his first game after being activated Sunday from the disabled list where he had been since the start of the season.

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