BOSTON (AP) – It’s all tied up in the AL East.

Boston and New York.

Two games to play.

Jason Varitek homered, David Ortiz drove in another big run and David Wells pitched seven strong innings on Friday night to give the Red Sox a 5-3 victory over the Yankees, knotting the division on the season’s final weekend.

Boston’s victory left both teams at 94-65 and guarantees that the AL East title won’t be decided until Sunday, what’s scheduled to be the final day of the regular season.

Or possibly Monday.

If the teams split the last two games, there could be a one-game playoff at Yankee Stadium. If Cleveland also is tied at 95 wins, the loser of the Boston-New York game would play the Indians Tuesday for the AL wild-card berth.

For now, the schedule has Tim Wakefield (16-11) facing Randy Johnson (16-8) on Saturday, with Curt Schilling (7-8) going against Mike Mussina (13-8) on Sunday.

Wells (15-7) won for the sixth time in seven decisions, with the only loss coming at Yankee Stadium on Sept. 9. But returning to Boston, where he’s now 8-1, served the former Yankee well; he allowed three runs, six hits and two walks, striking out five.

Mike Timlin got the last four outs for his 12th save in 19 chances. It was his 80th appearance of the season, a career-high that matches the franchise record.

Rookie Chien-Ming Wang (8-5) gave up five runs – just three earned – on four hits and six walks. He struck out four in 6 2-3 innings.

The voluble and voluminous Wells had demonstrated control this year – with his pitching, not with the mouth that earned him a suspension and a dressing down from the commissioner’s office. He allowed just 19 walks in his first 29 starts, but started off with two walks and a hit batter, loading the bases with one out in the first inning.

Still, the Yankees scored just once, when Hideki Matsui singled – his first of three hits – to score Alex Rodriguez. Jorge Posada struck out with the bases loaded and stranded six runners in his first three at-bats.

Rodriguez, the Yankees’ Most Valuable Player front-runner, walked and scored to give New York a 1-0 lead in the first, but Boston promptly tied it. Johnny Damon walked to lead off the Boston first, stole second and scored when Ortiz singled for his major league-leading 147th RBI.

Varitek homered to lead off the second, then Boston scored three more in the sixth to make it 5-1.

Damon singled and stole second and, one out later, Ortiz was intentionally walked – giving some words of encouragement to Manny Ramirez on deck. Ramirez singled, but too sharply for Damon to score, and the bases were loaded when Wang forced in a run by walking Trot Nixon.

Varitek hit a grounder to first baseman Jason Giambi, whose throw home was in the dirt and everyone was safe. John Olerud hit a sacrifice fly to center field to score Ramirez, then Giambi made a nice unassisted play on Bill Mueller’s hard grounder to end the inning.

Derek Jeter hit a two-run homer in the seventh, closing the Yankees within two runs.

It’s the closest race between the longtime rivals since 1978, when Bucky Dent’s popup over the Green Monster won a one-game playoff and gave the division to the Yankees. They also faced each other in the AL championship series in 1999 and each of the last two years, with Boston finally breaking through in 2004 for its first World Series title since 1918.

As if the series didn’t offer enough drama, Rodriguez and Ortiz entered as the AL’s two leading MVP candidates. The hometown crowd gives the edge to Big Papi and his penchant for game-saving hits – like the ones that tied and then won the game on Thursday night against Toronto.

For New York, Rodriguez’s Gold Glove-caliber defense is the difference between two players with stellar but evenly matched hitting stats.

But Rodriguez let Damon’s grounder go through his legs in the third, amusing the hometown crowd that wanted him so badly two winters ago. The buzz over A-Rod’s blunder was still in the stands when Ortiz came to the plate and spawned a new set of “MVP!” chants.

But Wang stabbed Ortiz’s one-hopper and threw to first, then Damon oddly tried to take third base and was out in a rundown, ending the inning.Boston had another runner thrown out on the bases in the fourth when Nixon was caught stealing in an apparently botched hit-and-run.

Notes: Yankees manager Joe Torre said a pitcher who throws knuckleballs or slow pitches, whose name he didn’t know, will throw in batting practice before Wakefield, a knuckleballer, goes on Saturday. … Yankees LHP Alan Embree, signed July 30 after being released by the Red Sox, said he has no hard feelings toward his former team but doesn’t know where he’ll play next year. “This year I’m nothing more than a two-month rental and next year will take care of itself,” he said. … Varitek’s solo homer in the second inning was his 22nd of the season, his first since Aug. 23. … Hall of Famer Wade Boggs, who played for Boston and New York, was honored before the game. He wore a Red Sox jersey. … Actor Robert Redford was in the crowd.

AP-ES-09-30-05 2224EDT

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