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Rockin' the House

Sox' hot offense helps to produce win at Stadium

NEW YORK -- This will go down as a 2-4 road trip, but, as David Ortiz's two home runs made Yankee Stadium feel like the youth field across the street, as Edgar Renteria delivered a homer among four hits, and as David Wells held the Yankees scoreless between the second and eighth innings last night, this felt like the most productive week of the Red Sox season.

The Sox romped past the Yankees, 7-2, last night, for a two-day total of Boston 24, New York 3. In winning two of three in the series, the Sox batted a Williams-eque .406 (52 for 128). Ortiz last night tied a career high with four hits, homering twice and knocking in four runs, while Renteria homered for the second consecutive day.

The Boston shortstop, who traded his No. 16 and ''a lot" of money to Wells for the No. 3 before the game, went 10 for 12 in this series and 16 for 24 on the trip, lifting his average 56 points. A .239 hitter the last time the booing people of Boston laid eyes on him, Renteria, with one more hit yesterday, could have come home at .301.

Wells, meanwhile, allowed only three base runners -- one on an error -- between the second and eighth innings in gaining his first win since April 20. After Wells got one out in the ninth, he allowed a single, and manager Terry Francona replaced him with Keith Foulke, who got the last two outs.

''I didn't know if he was going to give [the ball] to me," Francona said. ''I said, 'We can go fight later but you have to give it to me now.'

''We talked before the game about the stage not being too big for [Wells]," Francona said, referring to his pregame session with the media. ''He didn't look like he ever was worried. I think he rose to the occassion. He pitched a great ballgame."

Of the 2-4 record on the trip, Francona said, ''It isn't what you set out to do, but it's better than 0-6. Hopefully, we can go home and get hot."

Early on, before a sellout crowd of 55,235, the Sox worked Mike Mussina hard. Five Sox hitters worked Mussina to a full count the his first time through the Boston lineup, and, by the time Trot Nixon doubled with no outs in the third, Mussina had thrown a whopping 72 pitches. He exited after just three innings but 82 pitches, having coughed up five runs on seven hits (including three home runs) and two walks.

In that laborious opening inning Renteria and Ortiz saw a combined 17 pitches. Renteria worked a full count, fouled off four pitches, then lined a single to left on the 10th pitch of his at-bat. Ortiz followed by working the count full. He lined a foul ball near the right-field foul pole on the sixth pitch, then positively unloaded on an inside fastball that touched down eight rows into the third deck in right for a 2-0 Sox lead.

Ortiz was just 4 for 34 career off Mussina before that at-bat, with no home runs, four RBIs, and 15 strikeouts.

But the Yankees needed to see only 10 Wells pitches before tying it. Derek Jeter turned a 90 mile-per-hour fastball that Wells left up in the zone on a 2-and-2 count, lining it over the fence in left. Tony Womack flied out on the next pitch, and on the pitch that followed that, a belt-high fastball middle away, Gary Sheffield hit another steaming liner into the stands just over the wall.

At Fenway, those, in all likelihood, would have been two singles. The Yankees would have had two aboard and none across. Here, the game was tied, 2-2.

Those home runs marked No. 7 and 8 given up by Wells through 38 innings this season. He gave up back-to-back-to-back blasts in Toronto April 9 and two in the same inning last night.

But the Sox picked him up, plating three in the third and another in the fourth for a 6-2 lead.

Renteria, leading off the third, lunged well out ahead of a Mussina breaking ball but kept his bat back enough to loop a homer to left. Ortiz, the next batter, followed Renteria's homer by going where only 19 men had gone before in the last 30 regular seasons since Yankee Stadium was remodeled, launching a solo blast rows deep into the black hitter's background. Ortiz's epic shot marked his 13th-career two-homer game, and second of the season (April 23).

The Sox's sixth homer in two days and seventh of the series bumped their lead back to 4-2. Manny Ramirez then singled, giving him singles in six straight at-bats -- which he'd stretch to seven with a fourth-inning single. Ramirez scored on Nixon's double, making it 6-2, at which point Mussina had recorded just six outs.

Meanwhile, Wells, who needed a laborious 28 pitches to complete the first inning, was cruising. He recorded a four-pitch second inning on three fly outs.

The Yankees went down on eight pitches in the third, when Rey Sanchez grounded out, Jeter reached on a Wells throwing error, and Womack grounded into a double play. Wells also escaped the first inning on a Renteria to Mark Bellhorn 6-4-3 double play.

Wells then erased the meat of the Yankee lineup -- Sheffield (strikeout on a tight curveball), Alex Rodriguez and Jorge Posada (both ground outs) -- to end the fourth on just seven pitches.

''[Wells's] first inning kind of scared me a little bit," said center fielder Johnny Damon. ''He settled in, found his curveball."

Of the red-hot Renteria, who had been hearing it from the fans before this trip, Francona said, ''Maybe they needed to vent a little. I think they'll welcome him [tonight]. I think they'll be pretty excited his first time up."

''We're not as bad as we were a couple days ago," said Damon, who called the Sox a ''really bad team" earlier in the trip. ''So that's a plus."

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