BOSTON (AP) -- It took a win over the New York Yankees to
convince former All-Star closer Derek Lowe that he belongs as a
starter for the Red Sox, even though he came within six outs of a
no-hitter two weeks ago.
"This is probably the best game I've pitched," Lowe said after
Boston's 4-3 victory over the Yankees on Monday. "It was a test
Lowe, who entered the game 2-5 with a 7.34 ERA career against
the Yankees, struck out a career-high nine, allowing one run on two
hits and one walk in seven innings.
He improved to 2-1 with a 1.29 ERA in three starts this season.
In addition to his trademark sinker, Lowe used a cut fastball for
the first time against the Yankees.
By holding on in a tense ninth inning to win their annual
Patriots Day game, the Red Sox took three of four from the
four-time defending AL champions and finished their series leading
the East by a half-game over New York.
Yankees starter Andy Pettitte (1-1) left after three innings
with a tender left elbow, which has bothered him since the start of
spring training. He said it's the same pain from the spring and
felt it on a fastball to Tony Clark in the third.
"I finally felt like I was ready to let go. I guess I wasn't,"
Pettitte said. "I let one go, and I'm back to where I was."
Lowe, making just his 25th career start, allowed only singles by
Jason Giambi in the fourth and Robin Ventura in the seventh. The
bottom of New York's lineup -- Rondell White, Shane Spencer and
Alfonso Soriano -- went 0-for-7 with seven strikeouts against Lowe.
"I'm just trying to prove that I can start," said Lowe, who
made the All-Star team in 2000 as Boston's closer. "I feel like
I'm prepared more than I've ever been in my years here."
Lowe held Baltimore hitless until the eighth inning in his
season debut April 5, in a 3-0 win.
On Monday, Red Sox manager Grady Little pulled Lowe after the
"The kid was mentally and physically exhausted," Little said.
"He gave us everything he had."
Derek Jeter's two-run homer off Rich Garces in the eighth pulled
the Yankees within a run. Ugueth Urbina pitched the ninth to
complete the six-hitter, getting his third save of the series and
sixth in seven chances this season.
Jorge Posada singled with one out in the ninth and Ventura
doubled pinch-runner Gerald Williams to third. White then struck
out for the fourth time and John Vander Wal, batting for Shane
Spencer, took a called third strike.
Yankees manager Joe Torre said the final pitch was "maybe a
foot outside," but added, "I'm not an umpire complainer because
there's not too much you can do about it. It's too bad."
Shea Hillenbrand drove in two runs and extended his hitting
streak to 11 games.
Nomar Garciaparra hit an RBI double in the first, and New York's
poor fielding allowed another run when Jeter bobbled Clark's
potential inning-ending, double-play grounder, loading the bases.
Pettitte followed with a four-pitch walk to Hillenbrand.
Posada hit an RBI grounder in the fourth, but Boston made it 4-1
in the fifth off Adrian Hernandez on Hillenbrand's RBI double and
Varitek's run-scoring single.
Pettitte, limited to spring training starts because of a sore
left elbow, allowed two runs -- one earned -- and five hits. He threw
64 pitches, 39 for strikes.
Torre said he's "very concerned" and plans to bring the
usually durable lefty along slowly. Pettitte said he plans to throw
lightly Tuesday and doesn't plan on having tests.
After opening the season with six scoreless innings against
Tampa Bay on April 5, he lasted just 2 2-3 innings at Toronto last
Wednesday, allowing four runs -- three earned -- and six hits.
Lowe said his pitch that hit Nick Johnson in the first
inning was not retaliation for Hillenbrand being brushed back
Sunday by Mariano Rivera. Hillenbrand had hit a two-run homer off
Rivera on Saturday. ... The Yankees twice intentionally walked
cleanup hitter Manny Ramirez with first base empty to pitch to
Clark, who grounded to shortstop in the first and struck out in the
fifth. ... Ramirez has 13 walks, three intentional, this season.
... New York went 3-5 on its trip. ... RHP John Burkett, who
allowed three runs in 2 1-3 innings Sunday for Triple-A Pawtucket,
will make another minor league start before returning to Boston's
rotation. Burkett, Boston's best pitcher in spring training, is
recovering from a sore throwing shoulder. ... OF Michael Coleman
was expected to report to Pawtucket on Monday for a rehabilitation
assignment. Little said Coleman could return to the club for next
weekend's series at Kansas City. ... The game drew a sellout crowd