NEW YORK (AP) – Two little, too late for the Boston Red Sox.

Boston beat the New York Yankees twice in one day for the first time in 30 years, rallying for a 5-4 victory Sunday night on Mark Loretta’s ninth-inning sacrifice fly. In the opener of the team’s second straight day-night doubleheader, David Ortiz’s league-leading 49th homer and Kevin Youkilis’ three-run double in the seventh boosted Boston to a 6-3 win.

Boston, which overcame a 4-2, eighth-inning deficit in the nightcap, had not defeated the Yankees twice in one day since July 31, 1976, at Fenway Park, and hadn’t accomplished the feat at Yankee Stadium since July 4, 1973.

While beating the Yankees three of four in a 34-hour span, the situation remains bleak for the Red Sox.

New York was in position to clinch its ninth straight division title with a sweep Sunday combined with a Blue Jays loss to the Devil Rays. But even before the Red Sox got the final out of the opener, Toronto won 5-3.

“Sooner or later, we are going to clinch this thing,” Johnny Damon said.

New York, which leads the AL East by 91/2 games over the second-place Red Sox, still has a magic number of four and hopes to wrap up the division during a seven-game trip to Toronto and Tampa Bay that starts Monday. Last year, the Yankees clinched at Fenway Park on the next-to-last day of the regular season.

“Celebrating here, celebrating next week,” Youkilis said before pausing. “It’s definitely better that they’re not celebrating in front of us.”

Boston is 71/2 games behind Minnesota, the AL wild-card leader.

“There’s no glory here,” Youkilis said. “It doesn’t make us happy, at all. Our goal this year was to win the division and we didn’t accomplish it, barring a miracle.”

Derek Jeter sat out the opener and went 0-for-4 in the second game, ending his hitting streak at 25 games, the longest for the Yankees since Joe Gordon’s 29-game string in 1942. Jeter’s average fell to .341, three points behind Minnesota’s Joe Mauer, the AL leader.

Jorge Posada hit a two-run double that gave the Yankees a 4-2 lead in the sixth, but Jason Varitek hit an RBI single in the eighth off Mike Myers, who threw a run-scoring wild pitch on an 0-2 count with two outs.

Posada hit a drive to deep left-center in the bottom half that was about to be a two-run homer when center fielder Coco Crisp leaped at the wall to catch it.

Then Carlos Pena doubled off Kyle Farnsworth (3-5) leading off the bottom half and Crisp sacrificed, with Posada’s throw pulling Andy Phillps off the first-base bag for an error. Loretta flied to shallow center, and pinch-runner Alex Cora scored ahead of Bernie Williams’ weak throw.

Javier Lopez (1-0) got the win, and Mike Timlin finished for his eighth save, his second of the day.

Mike Mussina pitched six innings, twice escaping jams and allowing his only runs on Trot Nixon’s two-run homer in the second. He appeared to be over the strained groin that sent him to the disabled list from Aug. 21 to Sept. 5.

In the opener, Ron Villone (3-3) relieved to start the seventh with the score 2-all and walked Doug Mirabelli with one out. Villone caught Crisp, a pinch-runner, off first on a pickoff with two outs, but Crisp curled around first baseman Craig Wilson and got back to the base.

“Coco’s footwork to keep it going was interesting,” Red Sox manager Terry Francona said.

Wilson, who argued unsuccessfully, claimed Crisp was 6 feet out of the basepath but said first base umpire Mike Esterbrook told him Crisp didn’t stray beyond the 3-foot limit.

Loretta then worked out a 10-pitch walk and Dustin Pedroia, hitting just .137, doubled down the left-field line for a 3-2 lead. After an intentional walk to Ortiz loaded the bases, Youkilis cleared them with a double that short-hopped the wall in right-center.

Bryan Corey (2-1) won in relief of Kyle Snyder, who used a big curveball to strike out seven in five innings. He allowed his only runs in the third, when Damon and Melky Cabrera hit consecutive doubles and Robinson Cano followed with an RBI single.

Keith Foulke gave up a sacrifice fly to Alex Rodriguez in the seventh.

Villone has allowed 27 runs in 26 innings since the end of July, his ERA rising from 2.08 to 4.50.

“I’m not far away,” he said. “Physically I feel good. I’m missing by a little bit here and there.”

New York’s Jaret Wright gave up David Murphy’s first major league home run on his fourth pitch of the game and Ortiz’s homer leading off the sixth. Fans, who had been taunting Ortiz with chants of “Derek Jeter!” quickly shifted to “Season’s Over!”

While Ortiz wasn’t speaking to reporters, Murphy expressed pride.

“All the firsts are just unbelievable,” he said. “It’s a good place to hit your first one.”

Notes: Cabrera made a nice running grab of Eric Hinske’s fly ball down the left-field line starting the seventh of the opener. Cabrera extended his glove, caught the ball in the webbing, and his momentum carried him into the first row of the stands – reminiscent of Jeter’s startling, hurtling catch against the Red Sox on July 1, 2004, but not as difficult or dramatic. “The padding helped me a lot, so it was a nice fall,” Cabrera said through a translator.

AP-ES-09-18-06 0004EDT


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