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Grounder to first in seventh changes game

NEW YORK (AP) -- Eighteen years later, a grounder to first base
did in the Boston Red Sox again.

This New York setting was far less dramatic than when Bill
Buckner made his infamous error in Game 6 of the 1986 World Series,
but the play was eerily similar.

David Ortiz made a key error that allowed New York to tie game
in the seventh inning, and Gary Sheffield's RBI double in the
eighth sent the New York Yankees to a 4-2 victory over the Red Sox
on Wednesday night.

"That kind of stuff seems to happen a lot to us, especially
when we're playing the Yankees," Johnny Damon said. "Every single
loss is just magnified right now."

The Yankees have won the first two matchups of the three-game
series to open a season-high 7{-game lead over Boston in the AL
East. They'll go for a sweep Thursday night against Pedro Martinez.

Making his first appearance at Yankee Stadium since giving up
Aaron Boone's pennant-winning homer in Game 7 of the AL
championship series last year, Tim Wakefield shut down the Yankees
on three hits for 6 1-3 innings.

After a walk and a hit batsman, he left with a 2-0 lead -- but
the worst defense in the major leagues let him down.

"In the seventh inning, the wheels kind of fell off,"
Wakefield said.

Scott Williamson replaced Wakefield with runners at the corners,
then departed with the bases loaded and two outs because of a
strained right forearm.

Tony Clark hit a sharp grounder off Mike Timlin (4-3) right at
Ortiz, the designated hitter in Boston's original lineup. He was
switched to first base before the first pitch because Trot Nixon
had a tight quadriceps and moved from right field to DH.

Thinking the inning was over when the ball was hit, Wakefield
began to applaud in the dugout.

Then the ball squirted through Ortiz into shallow right field
for an error that allowed two runs to score, and the 37-year-old
knuckleballer just stared quietly straight ahead.

After the play, Ortiz headed toward the dugout for a new glove
because the ball had slipped right through the webbing of the other
one.

"I thought I had it. I was starting to go to first base, and I
saw the ball missing. My glove was kind of soft. Maybe that's why
it went through," Ortiz said. "We should've won the game."

Eighteen years earlier across town at Shea Stadium, it was
Buckner who allowed Mookie Wilson's 10th-inning grounder to go
through his legs, giving the Mets a 6-5 win. Two nights later, New
York won the World Series, keeping Boston without a title since
1918, a streak that endures.

This time, it took a little longer for Boston's loss to be
sealed.

Kenny Lofton led off the eighth with an infield single and went
to second when shortstop Nomar Garciaparra threw wildly for his
third error in two games.

Derek Jeter sacrificed Lofton to third, and he scored when
Sheffield doubled down the third-base line on the 10th pitch of his
at-bat against Timlin. Sheffield, playing with an aching shoulder,
fouled off seven 0-2 pitches.

"It was just one of those battles," he said. "It seemed like
we wanted it a little bit more."

Hideki Matsui added a two-out RBI single off Alan Embree, making
it 4-2.

Yankees reliever Felix Heredia got the crowd into it in the
seventh, escaping a bases-loaded, none-out jam by striking out
Ortiz.

"I think that was his best moment as a Yankee," Alex Rodriguez
said.

Tom Gordon (2-2) struck out two in a perfect eighth for the win,
and Mariano Rivera pitched the ninth for his 29th save in 30
chances.

The Red Sox, who made three errors in an 11-3 loss Tuesday
night, have allowed 60 unearned runs, the most in the majors.
Boston has lost seven of 10 and is 13-17 in its last 30 games.

"We had them where we wanted them," said an emotional Terry
Francona, Boston's manager. "We had our chances to extend the
lead. This is a tough one. It hurts."

Jon Lieber got his introduction to the Yankees-Red Sox rivalry,
keeping New York in the game for six-plus innings. The Yankees
rallied for their fourth straight win and fifth in six games. It
was their 30th comeback victory of the season.

"We just showed we can beat 'em both kinds of ways," Sheffield
said.

Ortiz had an RBI single in the first. Then he hit Lieber's first
pitch of the sixth over the right-center fence for his AL-leading
21st homer. He also tops the league with 75 RBI.

"We had them up against the ropes," Damon said. "This was our
game to win. But we're finding ways to lose. We've got no luck,
we're not playing great defense."

Game notes
Yankees 1B Jason Giambi was out of the lineup for the
fourth consecutive game because of an intestinal parasite. Clark
started in his place again. ... Lofton stole two bases for the
Yankees but was caught trying to steal third with two outs and
Rodriguez at the plate in the first. ... Boston signed RHP Pedro
Astacio to a minor league contract. ... The Red Sox dropped to
17-20 on the road. ... Yankees RHP Orlando Hernandez struck out six
in 6 1-3 innings, allowing one run, four hits and one walk in
second Triple-A rehabilitation start, a 9-1 win for Columbus over
Syracuse in the International League. He is 1-1.