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Lowe came up on short end

NEW YORK -- The tone of questioning by reporters following the Red Sox' 6-2 loss to the Yankees in Game 2 of the ALCS seemed better-suited for a guy who had pitched a subpar game. But Derek Lowe left the game in the seventh inning trailing only 4-2, having given up six hits.

Was it brilliant? Certainly not, but Lowe, pitching for the fourth time in eight days, didn't need to apologize for much.

"I'm not a guy to make excuses," said Lowe. "Probably sorer now than I've been in a long time. But not at any point did the workload affect my pitches. It was just, obviously, the seventh inning where we had two outs and nobody on and [Jason] Giambi hit a good pitch inside. I wasn't able to throw a strike to Bernie [Williams] and then [Jorge] Posada pretty much put us away with a big double [against Scott Sauerbeck]."

Lowe spotted the Yankees a 2-1 lead in the second inning. When he walked Posada to lead off the inning, he paid dearly. Nick Johnson, down in the count, 0-and-1, smacked a "cutter" into the right-field stands.

"It's a pitch I haven't used in a while," said Lowe. "Jason [Varitek] and I talked before the game that it would be a pitch that we were going to try to get involved in as early as we can, but not in a situation where it would hurt you. We were 0-1 on Johnson and it was a perfect time to throw it. It was just a very poorly located pitch. When you're a ground-ball guy, you have to live and die by it."

But when you consider that 15 of the 20 outs he recorded came on ground balls, it's certainly what you expect from Lowe.

"The other two hits, the other two runs, were scored on ground balls and sometimes they hit them out and sometimes they don't," Lowe shrugged.

Derek Jeter led off the third with an infield single to third base and Giambi and Williams singled, scoring the third run. Posada's liner hit off the heel of Jackson's glove and bounded away from him. He threw poorly to Nomar Garciaparra covering second, and the bases were loaded. But Lowe was able to get a force at the plate and a ground ball to retire the side.

On a night when the Red Sox' bats are blasting and the hitters are coming through in clutch situations, Lowe, the hero of Game 5 in Oakland in the Division Series, might have been in the game. But the Sox squandered opportunities early, putting more pressure on Lowe to pitch mistake-free.

In the seventh, Lowe retired the first two batters -- after retiring the side in order in the sixth -- and appeared to be breezing, but Giambi singled to right. Red Sox manager Grady Little paid a visit to the mound, but allowed Lowe to face Williams. After Lowe walked him on four pitches, Little replaced Lowe. In stepped Sauerbeck, who had not been used because of an oblique strain he suffered while warming up in Game 1 of the Oakland series. He promptly gave up Posada's double that iced the game. All six runs were charged to Lowe.

"When you look at it, if I'm able to get one more out in the seventh, it's 4-2," said Lowe. "I know I didn't. But up to that point, we were a bloop and a blast, as they say, away from it. That's why they are who they are. They are extremely tough and they never give up."

Lowe badly wanted to give the Sox a chance to go up 2-0 heading into Boston this weekend, but "any time you have Pedro it doesn't matter when or where, you have an opportunity."

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