Red Sox move within 6½ games of Yankees

NEW YORK (AP) -- With a little less than a month to make a run at
the playoffs, the Boston Red Sox gave themselves a good reason to
believe they can keep playing into October.

Nomar Garciaparra drove in three runs, and Casey Fossum won for
the first time in seven starts this season as Boston beat the New
York Yankees 8-4 Monday.

''This is pretty much knock time,'' pitcher Dustin Hermanson
said. ''There's no giving up on winning our division. This is a big
series for us. We know if we can come in here and take three games,
we're right in this thing.''

Shea Hillenbrand had three hits and scored twice for the Red
Sox, who trimmed New York's AL East lead to 6½ games on a rainy day
at Yankee Stadium.

Rey Sanchez and Jason Varitek added two-run singles. Boston,
outscored 13-0 in two home games against its longtime rivals last
week, is 4½ games behind Anaheim in the wild-card race.

After this series, the Red Sox don't play a team with a winning
record the rest of the season.

''We're not sitting here saying let's go for the wild card,''
Hermanson said. ''We still want to win this division. We want
bigger things than the wild card. If you're just going for the wild
card, you're not pushing yourself.''

Alfonso Soriano hit his 35th homer, stole his 38th base and
knocked in two runs as New York lost for the fourth time in five

Yankees starter Mike Mussina (16-8) returned to the mound after
a sixth-inning rain delay of 1 hour, 29 minutes and got out of a
bases-loaded jam.

''We leave it to him. We were not going to send him out there,
but he said 'Give me a chance to try and warm up,''' Yankees
manager Joe Torre said.

Hillenbrand tripled to left-center with two outs in the seventh
and scored on Garciaparra's single -- his 1,000th career hit.

Garciaparra, who finished 3-for-5, is the fastest Red Sox player
to 1,000 hits, doing it in 746 games. Wade Boggs accomplished the
feat in 747 games.

Garciaparra kept the ball from his 1,000th hit, as he often does
when he reaches a milestone.

''I just put them in a drawer,'' he said. ''Maybe one day I'll
look back at all of them.''

Trot Nixon's bloop double fell in front of sliding left fielder
Rondell White in the eighth, putting runners at second and third.
Sanchez followed with a two-run single to make it 6-3.

Varitek added a two-run single in the ninth, with Manny Ramirez
sliding neatly around Jorge Posada's tag at the plate.

The first five innings were played in a steady drizzle as the
grounds crew worked to keep the infield dry. With a puddle forming
in front of second baseman Soriano in the top of sixth, play was
finally halted.

Across town, the Mets and Marlins were rained out before they
even got started.

''The Mets weren't playing the Red Sox -- the Yankees were,''
Mussina said.

The right-hander matched a career high with six walks in 6 2/3
innings, giving up four runs and seven hits. After throwing a
three-hit shutout at Fenway Park last Wednesday, he dropped to 4-2
with a 3.12 ERA in six starts against Boston this season.

''I was curious why the game started at all,'' Mussina said. ''I
was told they were going to delay it, and then told later it was
going to start on time. It was raining from the time I warmed up.
The mound was muddy for six innings.''

Making his first start at Yankee Stadium, Fossum (3-3) fanned
Derek Jeter on a high fastball with the bases loaded to end the
fourth. The left-hander went five innings, allowing two unearned
runs and six hits. He struck out six.

Hermanson replaced Fossum after the rain delay and worked three
innings, giving up Soriano's leadoff homer in the seventh and
two-out RBI single in the eighth.

Jeter went 0-for-5 and left six runners on base. The Yankees
stranded 11 in all.

An error by Hillenbrand at third base allowed Soriano to reach
in the first inning, and the Yankees took advantage with two-out
RBI singles by Posada and Ron Coomer.

Mussina lost his control in the third, walking two batters
before Hillenbrand hit an RBI single. After a wild pitch put
runners at second and third, Garciaparra reached out with two
strikes and poked a two-run single over shortstop for a 3-2 lead.

''The rain killed us,'' Posada said. ''It was a long game.''

Game notes
Boston ace Pedro Martinez will miss Tuesday's scheduled
start against Roger Clemens because of a strained left hip. Frank
Castillo will pitch in his place. ... The Yankees plan to activate
1B-DH Nick Johnson (wrist) from the DL Tuesday and call up third
base prospect Drew Henson -- the former Michigan quarterback _ from
Triple-A Columbus. ... RF Raul Mondesi (right knee) and LF Shane
Spencer (left hamstring) sat out for the Yankees. ... Alex Arias
started at third base, his first appearance for New York since
being called up from the minors Aug. 17.