Pitching, defense abandon Red Sox in Bronx

NEW YORK (AP) -- Derek Jeter made the throws, Jorge Posada held
onto the ball in a home-plate collision and Aaron Small pitched a
game he'll remember for the rest of his life.

Boston arrived at Yankee Stadium with a September lead in the AL
East for the first time in a decade, and the New York Yankees
promptly made it shrink.

"That's how you win -- pitching and defense," Jeter said Friday
night after driving in the go-ahead run in an 8-4 win over the Red
Sox that opened a big three-game series.

With the Red Sox ahead 3-2 in the third, Jeter took a relay
throw from left fielder Hideki Matsui and threw to Posada, who was
knocked over by Jason Varitek trying to score from first.

"He just laid into me. Actually, we just collided. It was
pretty ugly," Posada said. "It was either through me or around
me. He decided to try to go through me."

Jeter hit a two-out single in the fourth that put the Yankees
ahead to stay at 4-3, then ranged into the hole at shortstop to
force out speedy Johnny Damon at second on Edgar Renteria's
grounder in the seventh, helping stymie a comeback attempt.

Alex Rodriguez and Posada homered off David Wells as New York
overcame a 3-1 deficit and cut Boston's division lead to three
games with a little more than three weeks left in the season. New
York remained a half-game back of Cleveland in the wild-card race.

"We can't be thinking in terms of holding our own. We've got to
make an impact," Yankees manager Joe Torre said. "The only way
you can do that is to go out there and win the first game."

Rodriguez, Posada and Jason Giambi had three hits apiece for the
Yankees, who scored single runs in each of the first four innings,
then chased Wells (12-7) during a four-run sixth.

Barely an afterthought when the Yankees left spring training,
Small improved to 7-0 overall, including 5-0 in six starts as a
fill-in. He allowed four runs and nine hits in 6 1-3 innings,
becoming the first pitcher to win his first seven decisions with
the Yankees since Doug Bird in 1980 and '81.

He needed 61 pitches to get through the first three innings,
then just 27 in the next three. Small received a standing ovation
when he came out of the game, tipping his cap to the sellout crowd
of 55,024 as he walked to the dugout, waving to the fans, then
tipping his hat again.

"I can't describe it. I can't put it into words," Small said.
"Somebody told me they were playing, `It's a Small World' when I
was walking off. I didn't even hear it. All I heard was how loud
the crowd was cheering for me. That was kind of cool. That was kind
of neat."

Boston tied a season high with four errors -- by Tony Graffanino
at second, Damon in center, Renteria at shortstop and Varitek
behind the plate.

"You don't want to make a big mistake. Those guys always take
advantage of that," said major league RBI leader David Ortiz, who
went 0-for-4 with a walk. "I've been watching them for a long
time. You have to play your best against them. It doesn't matter
how bad they've been playing or how bad they've been struggling.
You've got to bring your `A' game against them all the time."

Wells, 45-19 at Yankee Stadium during the regular season coming
in, allowed six runs -- five earned -- and nine hits in 5 2-3
innings. Chad Bradford followed and allowed RBI singles to Bernie
Williams and Rodriguez as the Yankees pulled away.

"We play great at home. We haven't played well on the road,"
Wells said.

New York got a first-inning run when Giambi hit a two-out
infield single to Graffanino, who had been shifted into right
field, and the second baseman's throw skipped by Kevin Millar, who
was just getting to the first-base bag, for an error that allowed
Rodriguez to score from second. Instead of backing up on the play,
Wells remained in the infield.

Boston took a 3-1 lead in the second on Damon's sacrifice fly
and an opposite-field drive by Renteria that bounced off the
right-field wall and past Matt Lawton for a two-run double.

Jeter made the throw to the plate after catching Matsui's throw
with a jump, and Rodriguez tied the score in the bottom half with a
pop-fly homer to right, his fifth home run this year against Boston
and his eighth in 67 regular-season at-bats against Wells.

Posada reached on an infield single in the sixth and scored from
first as Damon let Robinson Cano's single skip off his glove and
Renteria's relay throw slipped out of his hand and bounced about 10
feet away.

"He needed an oxygen tank there. It was kind of funny to
watch," Jeter said.

After the singles by Rodriguez and Williams, Giambi singled off
reliever Mike Myers' glove to drive in another run.

Boston got a run in the seventh when Cano misplayed Trot Nixon's
potential inning-ending double-play grounder for an error. With the
bases loaded and Tom Gordon on the mound, Varitek followed with
another grounder to Cano, who smoothly started a double play.
Mariano Rivera got three outs to end it.

"We made it a lot tougher on ourselves," Boston manager Terry
Francona said. "We made too many mistakes."

Game notes
Small did not allow a hit in 23 at-bats with runners on
base before Manny Ramirez's infield single in the first, according
to the Elias Sports Bureau. ... A fan on the first-base side was
hit near the right eye by Damon's broken bat in the seventh inning.