NEW YORK -- Yes, the proceedings were as bad and bizarre as the score in the little black box next to this text suggests.
So bad that Wily Mo Peña, by the sixth inning, had played all three outfield positions. So bizarre that Alex Gonzalez, homerless in 180 at-bats entering last night, pounded an Aaron Small offering into the thick Bronx air for a three-run homer. So bad that Alex Rodriguez committed two errors and Melky Cabrera one, allowing for six unearned runs. So bizarre that gentlemanly Bernie Williams, after being punched out looking on Josh Beckett's 100th and final pitch, tossed his helmet near plate umpire Charlie Reliford, who summarily tossed Williams.
But it was a win (the Sox' fifth in a row) and it was a resounding one, as the club equaled its season high for hits (16) and runs, pounding the Yankees, 14-3, before a sellout gathering of 54,688 as hostile to its own (torrential boos poured down upon Randy Johnson when he exited) as to the visitors. The Sox are now 2-0 against New York, having outhit the Yankees, 26-11, and outscored them, 21-6.
''We've got to keep it in perspective," said Mark Loretta, whose two-run single off Johnson in the fourth turned a 3-2 lead into a 5-2 edge. ''It's one game for us. But there was energy throughout. The stadium was electric. It definitely heightens everyone's concentration."
Loretta believed that to be especially true of Beckett, who arrived winless in his last three starts (all Sox losses) but improved to 4-1 with a 4.70 ERA. The subplot was to be the matchup between Beckett and Johnson, the last two pitchers to throw shutouts in the World Series (Johnson with Arizona in 2001 vs. the Yankees, Beckett with Florida in 2003's deciding Game 6 here). But early on neither had stuff anywhere close to what they did on those mystical nights.
Johnson opened the game by walking Kevin Youkilis on nine pitches, and that was pretty much how it would go for him. He walked five on the evening (his highest total since July 2002) and needed 92 pitches to complete 3 2/3 innings.
Beckett began his night fanning Johnny Damon on a 96-mile-per-hour fastball that left Damon grimacing on his way out of the box (he also appeared to mouth the word ''wow"). But Derek Jeter singled and Jason Giambi worked the count full before raking a 96-m.p.h. fastball a row or two deep into the stands in right, for his 11th homer and a 2-0 lead. By the time Hideki Matsui made the third out, Beckett had thrown 30 pitches.
But a trio of favorable factors -- timely hits by the Sox, woeful defense by the Yankees, and Johnson's inability to find the plate -- provided Beckett plenty of cushion. The Sox sent eight men to the plate in the third, eight in the fourth, and seven in the fifth. They scored three in the third, four in the fourth, and three more in the fifth, with six of those 10 runs unearned.
Dustan Mohr began the third by stinging a single to left. Gonzalez then walked. Youkilis lined out, Loretta grounded out, and David Ortiz hit a hard grounder at Rodriguez that should have ended the inning. But the ball caromed off A-Rod's glove and his body, and then he lost it under himself long enough for Ortiz to beat the throw. That scored one run. Gonzalez then scored to tie matters at 2-2 on the first of Johnson's two wild pitches.
Manny Ramírez made it 3-2, singling to left to score a motoring Ortiz.
Johnson, with one out in the fourth, walked Mohr on his 79th pitch. Gonzalez, behind 0-and-2, got a bad Johnson slider up in the zone, shortened his swing, and lined a single to center. Against Loretta, with two outs, Johnson uncorked another wild pitch, advancing the runners.
Loretta went to 3-and-0, and might have been expected to take another pitch. But Terry Francona often allows his players to swing on 3-and-0, and when Loretta looked down to third base coach DeMarlo Hale, he saw the light turn green.
Loretta wasn't surprised.
''I was thinking along those lines," he said. ''[Francona's] philosophy is that 3-and-0 can be a very good pitch to hit. He talks a lot of about having a feel for the game, offensively."
But, Loretta conceded, ''It would have been very easy with David on deck to throw up the take sign."
Instead, he swung.
''Probably done it less than five times in my career," he said.
And he yanked a single inside third base, plating two for a 5-2 lead.
Ortiz followed by doubling to left center, KO'ing Johnson. Small entered and popped up Ramírez (on the 12th pitch of the at-bat) to shallow right, where Robinson Cano, Damon, and Melky Cabrera (called up earlier in the day) converged. The ball caromed off the heel of Cabrera's glove for a two-run error. Johnson's line: 3 2/3 innings, 5 hits, 7 runs (2 earned), 5 walks, 3 K's.
''I'm not on the bandwagon that he's washed up," said Mike Lowell, who doubled twice, increasing his league-leading total to 19. ''He's still a good pitcher. He didn't have his best stuff."
Rodriguez committed his second error on another ball hit right at him in the fifth, allowing Lowell to reach. Nixon, pinch hitting, walked with one out. And up came Gonzalez, who hadn't homered since Aug. 5, 2005. That streak ended, with one aggressive swing, for a 10-2 lead.
''He threw a sinker in," said Gonzalez. ''I just need to find some holes."
Like over the fence?
''Big hole," he said.
Ramirez led off the following inning by homering on the first pitch Small threw.
Beckett, meanwhile, was outstanding after Giambi's early homer.
''I wasn't outstanding in the first inning?" Beckett asked. ''I made one bad pitch. The game plan was the same the second through the seventh inning as it was in the first. I wanted to attack the zone."
After the homer Beckett set down 12 in a row, allowing no runners until Cano's one-out double in the fifth. He came around to score on a Cabrera RBI single, but Beckett continued to exude calmness and effectiveness, finishing seven innings in 100 pitches (30 in the first inning, 70 in 2-7).
''I think he got more competitive, if that's possible with him," Loretta said. ''You could see him turn it up to that higher notch."