Manny unable to carry Sox past Yanks

Manny unable to carry Sox past Yankees

BOSTON -- It happens a few times every season. Red Sox slugger Manny Ramirez gets ridiculously hot and carries his team on his back for a sizable stretch of games. And as hard as he tried to do so on Wednesday night, Ramirez's hitting heroics were simply not enough to overcome a rough outing by right-hander Matt Clement, who squandered a pair of leads in an 8-6 loss to the Yankees in the rubber match of this three-game series.

Ramirez clocked two mammoth home runs, drove in three runs and scored three. For the series, the star left fielder went 8-for-12 with four homers and 10 RBIs. It was an impressive breakout for Ramirez, who was in a 4-for-27 drought when the series started.

"He's as hot as I've seen him," said Yankees manager Joe Torre. "He's certainly capable. It's no fluke."

But it wasn't enough. Not even after the Red Sox scored five runs in the first three innings against Randy Johnson. That was all Boston would score off Big Unit, who left after five innings and got the win.

Clement (4-4, 6.31 ERA) struggled big-time for Boston, giving up nine hits, four walks and eight runs over 4 1/3 innings. The most painful of those hits was a rocket line drive off the bat of Bernie Williams in the second inning that hit Clement on the right ankle, and perhaps affected the rest of his evening.

"I was very frustrated with how the evening went," said Clement. "When you get runs off Randy Johnson, you have to win the game. He's not gonna struggle for very long, so you have to take advantage of him when he is."

For the second night in a row, the Sox battled late in the game, but couldn't get the elusive big hit that they needed. With Boston down by a pair, David Ortiz stepped up with the bases loaded and two outs in the eighth against Kyle Farnsworth, but struck out looking on a nasty, 86-mph slider.

"You have to show them something else," Farnsworth said. "If they see fastball, fastball, fastball, they're going to eventually catch up to one. You have to change speeds, change eye levels, do anything you can to keep them off-balance."

One at-bat earlier, the Red Sox lost a chance to get a run closer when ball four to Mark Loretta scooted to the backstop. The problem was that Wily Mo Pena, who was on third, never saw the ball get away.

"He didn't see it," said Red Sox manager Terry Francona. "We were kind of pulling him from where I was. We didn't have a long enough rope."

The Red Sox couldn't touch ace closer Mariano Rivera in the ninth, going down in order.

It was a deflating finish to the series for the Red Sox, who won the opener behind a strong performance from Curt Schilling.

The Red Sox came out swinging against the Big Unit. Ramirez hammered one over the Green Monster and onto Lansdowne Street to make it 2-0 in the bottom of the first.

Clement gave the lead right back. After retiring the first two batters in the second, Clement issued a walk to Robinson Cano. Then he took that line drive off his right leg from Williams on what wound up being an infield single.

"It got me right above my ankle bone on my right leg," said Clement. "It didn't help. I stayed out there and pitched, so you deal with it. You can't use it as a reason why things didn't go well, but it didn't help the cause."

From that point on, Clement labored. He walked Terrence Long and hit Kelly Stinnett, forcing in a run. Melky Cabrera followed with a two-run single to right and Derek Jeter smacked an RBI double to left, giving the Yankees a 4-2 lead.

"I felt that coming off the last start, I was in a pretty good groove and I felt good and I got through the first inning feeling exactly the same," said Clement. "I felt like I took some good steps forward and then all of a sudden I took a bunch of steps back."

But back came the Red Sox. Kevin Youkilis drilled a two-run shot over the Monster to tie it in the bottom of the second. The Red Sox went ahead in the third, utilizing a leadoff double from Ramirez and an RBI single by Jason Varitek.

Perhaps a big swing in the game came in that same inning though. Mike Lowell followed Varitek with a single, but Johnson then struck out Pena, Dustan Mohr and Alex Gonzalez.

The roller coaster ride continued in the fifth when Clement again faltered, this time for good. The Yankees opened the inning with four straight singles, the latter two of which were RBI knocks Williams and Long.

"Broken bat single over the second baseman's head [by Alex Rodriguez] to start it off, I wanted to get Cano to hit a groundball and he hits a groundball just to the right of [Mark] Loretta," Clement said. "It's a game of inches. The ball goes right at him, we're talking about what a great pitch it was to get Cano out, gave up two groundball singles between first and second after that. I don't know if I struggled with anything. I wish I had gone a little more in on A-Rod or it wouldn't have floated out there as far. That was a big hit."

Julian Tavarez was called on to get Clement out of the jam, but he surrendered a two-run single to Cabrera, giving the Yankees an 8-5 lead.

Ramirez's second homer of the night, a towering laser off Scott Proctor, brought Boston a little closer in the seventh. But that was as much as the gap would close.

Ian Browne is a reporter for This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.