NEW YORK (AP) – On the first of two long days, Jason Giambi gained the New York Yankees a split of their day-night doubleheader against the Boston Red Sox and boosted them into a tie with the New York Mets for the best record in the major leagues.

Giambi’s go-ahead double in the seventh inning lifted the Yankees to a 7-5 win Saturday night that lowered to four the magic number for New York’s ninth straight AL East title.

In the opener, David Ortiz was booed repeatedly and responded with two doubles and three walks, helping the Red Sox to a 5-2 victory behind Josh Beckett.

New York maintained a season-high 11-game lead over the second-place Red Sox, who dropped eight games back of Minnesota in the wild-card race. The Yankees (90-57) and Boston will do it again Sunday, playing another split doubleheader – making it four games in a span of about 36 hours.

With a sweep Sunday and a loss by Toronto, the Yankees would clinch.

“We’re still trying to win a division, so our intensity level has to remain up,” Derek Jeter said between games. “It’s not like we’re playing and we have nothing to play for. We still have to win some games.”

Jeter had hits in both games to extend his hitting streak to 25 games, the longest for the Yankees since Joe Gordon’s 29-game string in 1942. Jeter went 2-for-10 and his average dropped to .343, one point below AL leader Joe Mauer of Minnesota.

In the second game, Giambi put the Yankees ahead 6-5 in the seventh with an opposite-field double to left off Craig Breslow (0-2), a drive just over Wily Mo Pena’s outstretched glove. Jorge Posada followed with a run-scoring single against Manny Delcarmen.

Randy Johnson allowed five runs, eight hits and three walks in 5 2-3 innings, striking out six, and Scott Proctor (6-4) got out of a first-and-third, one-out jam in the seventh by striking out Jason Varitek and pinch-hitter Trot Nixon. Kyle Farnsworth pitched the ninth for his fifth save.

Alex Gonzalez and Kevin Youkilis hit RBI doubles in the third, and Gonzalez made it 3-1 with a run-scoring single in the fourth, but Bernie Williams’ two-run double off starter Julian Tavarez tied it in the bottom half.

Coco Crisp struck out in his first three at-bats against Johnson, hacking at sliders, before doubling off the left-field foul line on a 3-2 pitch with the bases loaded in the fifth. The Yankees came right back in the bottom half on pinch-hitter Hideki Matsui’s sacrifice fly off Craig Hansen and Melky Cabrera’s run-scoring single.

Beckett (15-10) allowed four hits and five walks in six innings, but the only hit that cost him was Robinson Cano’s two-run homer in the second.

Yankees starter Chien-Ming Wang (17-6) lost for the first time in six starts.

since Aug. 13, giving up three runs and nine hits in five-plus innings. Given that he’s 10-3 at Yankee Stadium, he appears likely to start one of the first two playoff games along with Johnson or Mike Mussina.

“He, Moose and Randy, as far I’m concerned, I trust them all,” Yankees manager Joe Torre said.

Boston rallied in the fourth, when Nixon doubled leading off and Eric Hinske reached on an infield single, with Jeter making a diving stop and then throwing from his knees only to have the ball skip past Giambi at first.

Hinske took third on the error – Jeter punched at the air in frustration. Doug Mirabelli then had a run-scoring single, David Murphy an RBI double and Alex Cora a run-scoring groundout.

New York relievers Ron Villone and Brian Bruney combined to walk four straight batters in the seventh, including Nixon with the bases loaded, and Octavio Dotel threw a run-scoring wild pitch in the ninth.

Notes: New York plans to have Gary Sheffield play in a simulated game before a batting practice on their trip next week before activating him. Sheffield had wrist surgery on June 13. … Hideki Matsui will return to left field during the final homestand, Torre said. … The Red Sox were just 3-for-17 with runners in scoring position in the opener, and the Yankees 0-for-7.

AP-ES-09-16-06 2349EDT


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