Lowell quarterbacks Sox offense
Third baseman turns in hard-fought effort against Yankees
BOSTON -- It was a game that had an untimely rain delay (just ask Curt Schilling and Mike Mussina), several lead changes and a couple of jarring collisions on the bases. By the time all the various twists and turns were complete between the rivals, the Red Sox were the survivors, upending the Yankees, 11-6, on a wild Saturday at Fenway Park.
"It was like a football game," said Red Sox manager Terry Francona. "With the rain delay and the national broadcast and us playing the Yankees, I think everybody leaves the game just mentally and physically exhausted -- the coaches, the players, the umpires. That's a lot of hard baseball."
The football-style of play Francona referred to was embodied by Mike Lowell, who made some big hits with his bat (3-for-4, homer, four RBIs) and his body.
Just like in Friday's game, the difference was one big inning. But this time, it came from the Red Sox, who leveled the Yankees with a five-run seventh to dramatically crawl out of a 6-5 deficit.
"It was hard fought," said Kevin Youkilis, whose 23-game hitting streak came to an end. "When you have two great teams playing against each other 19 times a year, you're going to have drama. That's just the bottom line. Tonight it was good drama for us, and we're glad to come out with a 'W.'"
For the Red Sox, the win ensured they would avoid their first three-game losing streak of the season and also boosted their lead over the Yankees to 13 1/2 games.
"Just two teams trying to win, simple as that," said Lowell. "Just two good teams. That's why I don't think the standings mean anything. That's a good team that we're playing."
The lead switched hands for good on what could best be described as an unfortunate set of circumstances in that bottom of the seventh. With the bases loaded and nobody out, Lowell hit a seemingly innocuous grounder to second. The Yankees were primed to concede the tying run and turn two. But a wide throw by Derek Jeter changed everything.
With Doug Mientkiewicz left at an awkward angle -- almost behind the bag -- Lowell couldn't help but run right over him. Lowell's left leg rammed the back of Mientkiewicz's head. The throw -- on which Jeter was charged with an error -- skipped by, allowing two runs to score.
Meanwhile, Mientkiewicz, who appeared to be out of it for a moment, was taken out of the ballpark on a golf cart and then transported Massachusetts General Hospital for precautionary tests. The Fenway faithful gave the member of the 2004 Red Sox World Series title team a hand as he exited.
Red Sox general manager Theo Epstein checked in with his Yankees counterpart Brian Cashman after the game to see how Mientkiewicz was doing.
"It looked like [Lowell] tried to somehow not hit him," said Francona. "That was almost inevitable. It was just two bodies in the way of each other. That's tough. That makes you nervous, regardless of what team you're with."
Earlier in the game, Lowell had plowed over Robinson Cano on a double-play ball because the second baseman was standing still in the middle of the basepath.
"He deked him a little," Yankees manager Joe Torre said. "If you're in the line, you're fair game. There was nothing dirty, just hard baseball."
Schilling -- perhaps sluggish after the 29-minute rain delay in the bottom of the fourth -- surrendered a three-run homer to Jorge Posada on a meaty splitter in the sixth, and Javy Lopez gave up one more run in the inning, putting the Sox in a 5-3 hole.
"Yeah, it didn't split," said Schilling.
The rain delay appeared to take a toll on the righty.
"Well, nothing significant," said Schilling. "I felt different coming out of it and I didn't have a loose arm like I expected to, but I still felt that I had good enough stuff."
Mussina, much like Schilling, seemed to lose his feel. Lowell and Jason Varitek opened the bottom of the sixth with back-to-back homers to tie it up. In hindsight, the Red Sox felt those consecutive knocks provided the biggest momentum swing of the day.
"It just helped us get back in the game," Varitek said. "Mike set the tone. We were both able to put good swings on the ball and were able to get us back in the game right away. It was just back and forth all day."
Right on cue, Jeter untied it in the top of the seventh by mashing a towering blast over the Green Monster against Joel Pineiro.
Scott Proctor got off to a bad start in the bottom of the seventh, surrendering a double to David Ortiz over Bobby Abreu's head in right. Then came an intentional walk to Manny Ramirez and another walk to Youkilis that loaded the bases. That set the stage for the Lowell-Mientkiewicz collision, and the Red Sox broke it open from there.
It's likely neither team would have trouble sleeping on Saturday night.
"That was a grind-out win for us," said Schilling. "[Lowell] was huge on both sides of the line, but it seems like every time we play them, it takes your entire lineup and almost your entire bullpen to get through it every night with both these teams."
Ian Browne is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.