Table for two at Yankee Stadium
Youkilis, Lugo set pace for offense as Sox overpower Yanks
NEW YORK -- Yankees fans expect the Red Sox's David Ortiz and Manny Ramirez to terrorize pitchers in the American League's most intense rivalry. That pair was relatively quiet Friday night as the 1-2 punch of Julio Lugo and Kevin Youkilis did most of the damage in Boston's 11-4 victory that extended New York's losing streak to seven games, its longest since the Bombers ended the 2000 season with seven straight losses.
Boston's first two hitters did more than set the table. They kicked it over, combining for five hits, five runs and six RBIs. This was no top-of-the-order Judy stuff, either. Each homered, and Lugo added a double and two stolen bases.
For Youkilis, the productive evening was a continuation of a steady period of offensive success, although his .188 average in 16 at-bats vs. left-handed pitching entering the game did not bode well with Andy Pettitte on the mound for the Yankees. Then again, Youkilis was 1-for-2 against Pettitte last weekend at Fenway Park and followed that with a home run, single and walk off him Friday night.
"It wasn't that he had bad stuff," Youkilis said. "It was just that he got behind in the count too often."
For Lugo, on the other hand, the outburst was an oasis in a dry spell that had dropped his average from .333 to .234 over the previous 10 games. His groundout in the first inning extended a hitless string to 11 at-bats, which he followed by reaching base in each of his subsequent plate appearances.
Lugo and Youkilis staked the Red Sox and pitcher Daisuke Matsuzaka to a 2-0 lead in the third inning. Lugo led off with a single to right, and Youkilis drove a 3-1 pitch to left field for a home run, his second this year and second since Aug. 14, 2006.
After Matsuzaka gave away the lead by walking the bases full in the fourth and yielding four runs, Lugo and Youkilis ignited a three-run rally in the fifth that regained the lead for the Red Sox. Lugo walked on a full count with one out and stole second. Youkilis singled under the glove of shortstop Derek Jeter, sending Lugo to third.
Lugo scored on a single to center by Ortiz. Youkilis crossed the plate on a bases-loaded walk to Mike Lowell. The third run of the inning scored on a wild pitch. Lugo increased Boston's lead to 6-4 with a home run in the sixth, his first in 241 at-bats since a two-homer game July 22 last year for the Devil Rays against the Orioles.
Lugo acknowledged that his home-run trot could use some work. After passing first base, Lugo stopped and went back to the bag to step on it.
"I missed the bag as I went around first," he said. "I didn't think the ball was going out and took my eye off it as I went back to first base. I didn't want to let it slide. I guess it has been such a long time [since hitting a long ball] that I forgot how to run it out."
The conditions were ideal for both players to have big games, because each had people in the house.
Youkilis' parents were at Yankee Stadium as part of a visit to New York. Lugo, who was born in the Dominican Republic, grew up in the Fort Hamilton section of Brooklyn. He said he had left 10 tickets for various friends and relatives, and that quite a few others bought tickets on their own for the game.
How many of them stood up to cheer a Red Sox player was not known.
"I didn't know things got to be this intense," Lugo said of the rivalry he has now witnessed firsthand the past two weekends. "But I like it when fans come out and make a lot of noise."
What the Red Sox appreciated most was the noise Lugo and Youkilis made.
Jack O'Connell is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.