|N.Y. Yankees «||1||0||2||0||0||1||3||0||0||7||7||1|
On Tuesday night, he did it against Boston, sending the New York Yankees on their way to a 7-5 victory.
"I've hit some home runs in this park," he said nonchalantly. "Plan to hit more in the future."
Damon has 17 leadoff homers in his career, his most recent coming last Aug. 29 for the Red Sox at Fenway Park. The last time he hit one on the road -- as the first batter in the game -- was in St. Louis for Game 4 of the 2004 World Series, which Boston won to end its 86-year title drought.
"Johnny is that kind of player. We've seen it against us so many times," Yankees manager Joe Torre said. "He's a terrific presence in our dugout and our clubhouse. Not (just) on the home run, but he put us in position to score more runs, too."
Damon poked one around Pesky's Pole in the first to stake Jaret Wright (2-3) to an early lead, and Alex Rodriguez hit a three-run shot to put the Yankees ahead 7-1 and chase Tim Wakefield (3-6). Manny Ramirez hit a three-run homer for Boston to narrow the gap before Mariano Rivera got five outs for his ninth save.
Wright pitched five shutout innings, allowing four hits and leaving with a 3-0 lead when he tweaked his groin on a grounder back to the mound.
"He wasn't asking to go back out there, he was demanding to go out there ... We just basically shut him down," Torre said. "We're hopeful that he won't miss any starts or anything."
Wakefield gave up six earned runs on six hits and five walks, striking out five in 6 2/3 innings. The Yankees scored an unearned run in the sixth when Doug Mirabelli had three passed balls that allowed Rodriguez to reach base, take second and, after advancing to third on a fielder's choice, score.
"It's a double-edged sword," said Mirabelli, Wakefield's personal catcher last year who was reacquired this month after Josh Bard was unable to catch the knuckleball. "When he has a really, really good knuckleball they can't hit it. But I still have to catch it."
Wakefield threw 10 consecutive balls in the seventh, walking Derek Jeter and Gary Sheffield with two outs before Rodriguez put one over the Green Monster. Activated from the disabled list before the game, Sheffield went 0-for-3 with two walks, striking out in the ninth with huge hacks, but little timing.
"Even if he goes 0-for-50, his presence is so important for our team," Rodriguez said. "He swings the bat with such aggression."
Trot Nixon fouled out to third base to end the inning. Rivera finished for New York's second victory in six games.
The Yankees are just 2-4 against Boston this year, and Wright hadn't had much success against the Red Sox, either, going 1-3 with a 7.30 ERA in nine career starts against them. But on Tuesday night he twice pitched out of jams with a runner on third.
Boston went 3-for-15 with runners in scoring position and stranded 13.
Scott Proctor gave up Mirabelli's RBI single in the sixth and then walked two in the seventh before Ramirez, for the second night in a row, homered deep into the center-field bleachers. It was his 44th career homer against the Yankees, tying him with Rocky Colavito for ninth on the all-time list.
|Alex Rodriguez comes through for the Yankees with a three-run home run in the seventh. (AP)|
|Players of the Game|
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|New York Yankees|
|Johnny Damon, CF||5||2||2||1||0||1||0||.284|
|Derek Jeter, SS||4||1||2||2||1||1||0||.352|
|Gary Sheffield, DH||3||1||0||0||2||1||1||.317|
|Alex Rodriguez, 3B||4||2||1||3||0||2||2||.275|
|Jorge Posada, C||3||0||1||0||1||0||2||.303|
|Robinson Cano, 2B||4||0||0||0||0||1||3||.301|
|Bernie Williams, LF||4||0||0||0||0||0||1||.258|
|Terrence Long, RF||4||0||0||0||0||1||1||.000|
|Andy Phillips, 1B||3||1||1||0||1||0||0||.196|
|2B - Johnny Damon (12, Wakefield), Jorge Posada (6, Tavarez)|
|HR - Johnny Damon (5, Wakefield), Alex Rodriguez (11, Wakefield)|
|RBI - Johnny Damon (25), Derek Jeter 2 (34), Alex Rodriguez 3 (35)|
|2-OUT RBI - Alex Rodriguez 3 (13)|
|SB - Derek Jeter (8, 3rd base off Wakefield/Mirabelli), Gary Sheffield (5, 2nd base off Wakefield/Mirabelli)|
|CS - Andy Phillips (1, 2nd base by Wakefield/Mirabelli)|
|Team LOB - 5|
|DP - Cano-Jeter-Phillips|
|E - Robinson Cano (5, Misplayed grounder)|
|New York Yankees|
|Jaret Wright (W,2-3)||5||4||0||0||2||3||0||4.18|
|Kyle Farnsworth (H,5)||1||0||1||1||3||2||0||3.86|
|Mariano Rivera (S,9)||1.2||2||0||0||0||1||0||2.82|
|Pitches-Strikes - Jaret Wright 73-47, Scott Proctor 38-23, Mike Myers 5-1, Kyle Farnsworth 29-14, Mariano Rivera 21-15|
|Ground Balls-Fly Balls - Jaret Wright 5-8, Scott Proctor 1-2, Mariano Rivera 1-3|
|Batters Faced - Jaret Wright 22, Scott Proctor 9, Mike Myers 1, Kyle Farnsworth 6, Mariano Rivera 7|
|Boston Red Sox|
|Kevin Youkilis, 1B||3||2||0||0||2||1||2||.305|
|Mark Loretta, 2B||3||1||1||0||2||0||0||.296|
|David Ortiz, DH||4||0||0||0||1||0||4||.273|
|Manny Ramirez, LF||5||1||3||4||0||0||1||.304|
|Trot Nixon, RF||4||1||2||0||1||0||4||.306|
|Mike Lowell, 3B||4||0||1||0||1||0||2||.331|
|Alex Cora, SS||4||0||2||0||1||0||1||.270|
|Doug Mirabelli, C||4||0||1||1||0||2||6||.163|
|a- Jason Varitek, PH||1||0||0||0||0||0||1||.228|
|Willie Harris, CF||2||0||0||0||0||1||4||.143|
|b- J.T. Snow, PH||1||0||0||0||0||0||1||.250|
|Dustan Mohr, CF||2||0||0||0||0||2||1||.184|
|a-popped out for Mirabelli in the 9th|
|b-grounded into a double play for Harris in the 6th|
|HR - Manny Ramirez (9, Proctor)|
|RBI - Manny Ramirez 4 (26), Doug Mirabelli (2)|
|2-OUT RBI - Manny Ramirez (9)|
|Team LOB - 13|
|DP - Mirabelli-Cora|
|PB - Doug Mirabelli 3 (4)|
|Boston Red Sox|
|Tim Wakefield (L,3-6)||6.2||6||7||6||5||5||2||4.57|
|Pitches-Strikes - Tim Wakefield 114-66, Julian Tavarez 4-2, David Riske 11-8, Jonathan Papelbon 13-10|
|Ground Balls-Fly Balls - Tim Wakefield 9-6, Julian Tavarez 1-0, David Riske 3-0, Jonathan Papelbon 1-0|
|Batters Faced - Tim Wakefield 31, Julian Tavarez 2, David Riske 3, Jonathan Papelbon 3|
|Attendance - 36290|
|Game Time - 3:18|
|Temperature - 60|
|Umpires - Home - Larry Poncino, First Base - Bruce Dreckman, Second Base - Rob Drake, Third Base - Gary Darling|