Rain forces postponement of Red Sox-Yankees game

NEW YORK (AP) -- When the New York Yankees lost a pair of power-hitting outfielders, nobody was sure how they would hold up.

Then Melky Cabrera came to the rescue from Triple-A Columbus.

Filling in admirably for injured left fielder Hideki Matsui, Cabrera has delivered several key hits and some surprisingly solid defense since he was called up from the minors on May 9.

The highlight came Tuesday night, when the soft-spoken rookie made an astounding catch to rob Manny Ramirez of a tying homer in the eighth inning and preserve a 2-1 victory over the rival Boston Red Sox.

"There was so much involved in that particular situation that I think it's a catch that's going to be remembered for a while," New York manager Joe Torre said. "It was special."

The Yankees were still buzzing about Cabrera's clutch play on Wednesday, when their scheduled game against Boston was postponed by rain.

No makeup date was announced. Though the teams have three mutual off days remaining (July 27, Aug. 7 and Sept. 7), the game will likely be rescheduled as part of a doubleheader during Boston's final trip to Yankee Stadium from Sept. 15-17.

Both starting pitchers were pushed back one day. Curt Schilling (8-2) is now slated to start the series finale for the Red Sox on Thursday night against New York right-hander Jaret Wright (3-3).

"Jaret's pitching well now and we just want to keep him in rotation," Torre said.

The Yankees took the first two games of this series without ailing captain Derek Jeter and have won four straight meetings with Boston.

They can thank Cabrera for the last one.

With two outs in the eighth and New York leading by one, longtime nemesis Manny Ramirez hit a long drive to left-center off reliever Kyle Farnsworth. Cabrera went back to the fence and leaped at the 399-foot sign, coming down with the ball before tumbling onto the warning track.

Center fielder Johnny Damon thrust his arms in the air and jumped in celebration. Ramirez just watched in disbelief, smiled and mouthed "Wow!"

A relieved Farnsworth gave Cabrera a warm greeting as he returned to the dugout, and the roaring Yankee Stadium crowd of 55,141 brought him out for a curtain call.

After the game, Cabrera called his mother and grandmother back home in the Dominican Republic to tell them all about the best catch of his life.

"They were very happy. They were hoping I didn't get hurt when I banged into the wall," he said through a translator.

With Gary Sheffield also injured, the 21-year-old Cabrera has made eight starts in right field to go along with 17 in left. And he's pulling his weight at the plate even though he hasn't hit a home run.

"He's a good hitter," Torre said. "I think he'll hit home runs, but I don't think it's significant. It's all about production."

Cabrera is batting .286 in 91 at-bats with four doubles, a triple and 12 RBI. He's also drawn 13 walks, giving him a solid .375 on-base percentage -- one reason Torre has bumped him up to the No. 2 spot in the lineup lately.

"Even if he flattens out and isn't as good a player let's say in the next week that he's been, he's done so much in this period of time. Against Boston, to do it against Boston -- I think once you do that, it's something you can fall back on," Torre said. "Overall, when you look at him, ability-wise, I don't think there's any question in anybody's mind that he can play."

Not everyone was so sure last year after Cabrera was called up in July. He went 4-for-19 (.211) during six starts and had a couple embarrassing miscues in center field.

He was quickly sent back to Columbus -- and then demoted to Double-A Trenton. But after the season he played well in the Dominican Winter League, batting .315 and finishing second in MVP voting.

Right away, Torre realized he had a much more confident player this year -- even though Cabrera dropped a fly ball last month almost immediately after he was recalled.

"I feel comfortable wherever they play me," Cabrera said.

With the first-place Yankees (35-22) beset by injuries, Cabrera has combined with part-time first baseman Andy Phillips to give the team some energy and steady production from unexpected sources. New York has won nine of 11 to move a season-high 13 games above .500.

"We've got a heartbeat going here," Torre said. "We knew in spring training we had some kids that were players here. We just didn't expect too see a bunch of them at the same time."