Nick Johnson and Jorge Posada wouldn’t let the New York Yankees’ bullpen give the game away.
That’s why Andy Pettitte came away with a win and Pedro Martinez didn’t.
Pettitte outlasted the fatigued Red Sox ace Saturday and led the Yankees to a 10-7 victory over Boston, surviving early trouble to move into a tie for the league lead with his 17th win. New York extended its lead in the American League East to 4 1/2 games.
“This could be the biggest game of the year,” Yankee Manager Joe Torre said.
Posada homered twice and Johnson had four hits and four RBIs. Pettitte (17-7) gave up three earned runs and seven hits in seven innings, striking out seven to win for the fourth consecutive start and the 12th time in 13 decisions.
“I really felt like I got into a good groove,” said Pettitte, who gave up three runs in the first before settling down.
Mariano Rivera earned his 30th save despite contributing to Boston’s three-run eighth inning that cut New York’s lead to one.
Coming on with one out, the bases loaded and an 8-4 lead, Rivera gave up a two-run double to pinch-hitter David McCarty and two walks to score another run before striking out Bill Mueller to end the threat.
“I know there’s going to be a lot of talk about Rivera and what he gave up,” Torre said. “But the fact that he struck out the last hitter in the eighth inning speaks volumes of him ... “
Martinez (10-4), who missed his Aug. 21 start because of a fever and sore throat, gave up five runs, nine hits and struck out three in four innings.
“He wasn’t 100 percent out there today,” Boston Manager Grady Little said. “He’s still a little bit affected by the sickness he had last week.... He’s had better days, and he’ll have better ones later.”
Posada hit his second homer in the ninth, a two-run shot off Byung-Hyun Kim, to make it 10-7.