Clemens shuts down Red SoxRoger Clemens allowed just two hits and one run over six innings
Clemens shut down his original team, allowing only two hits and outpitching a much younger ace in leading the New York Yankees to a 4-3 victory over Boston.
Alex Rodriguez hit his major league-leading 44th home run, and the Yankees got another big hit from Johnny Damon to earn their second consecutive win in the series. New York trimmed Boston's cushion to six games in the AL East and moved within a percentage point of Seattle for the wild-card lead.
Josh Beckett was tagged for a career-high 13 hits by the Yankees, who turned to Mariano Rivera in the eighth inning for a four-out save.
Clemens (6-5) held the Red Sox hitless until David Ortiz connected for an upper-deck homer with one out in the sixth. The Rocket worked around a season-high five walks and improved to 9-5 in his career against Boston, a team he last faced in Game 7 of the 2003 AL championship series.
The Yankees tied the season series 7-all after losing the first four meetings. The teams play four more times this year, including Thursday afternoon. New York will go for a series sweep when 15-game winner Chien-Ming Wang faces Boston's Curt Schilling.
Kevin Youkilis also homered for the Red Sox, who played without injured star Manny Ramirez. The slugger sat out with a strained muscle on his left side and probably will be sidelined for several days.
"I don't know. Maybe a week?" Ramirez said.
Youkilis' two-run shot off Kyle Farnsworth in the eighth cut it to 4-3. Rivera entered with a runner on first and retired Coco Crisp on a soft comebacker to end the inning.
Rivera worked a perfect ninth for his 22nd save in 25 chances this season and second in two nights against Boston, often a personal nemesis.
The 45-year-old Clemens, who earned 192 of his 354 career wins with Boston from 1984-96, struck out two and improved to 3-0 in his last four starts.
Rodriguez hit a solo homer off Beckett (16-6) in the seventh to make it 4-1, then came out for a curtain call. A-Rod's 508th home run tied Toronto's Frank Thomas for 20th on the career list.
The 27-year-old Beckett, a fellow Texas fastballer who grew up idolizing Clemens, allowed four runs over 6 2-3 innings in their first career matchup. Beckett pitched at shutout at Yankee Stadium to clinch the 2003 World Series for Florida.
The right-hander, who had won three straight decisions, was looking for his major league-best 17th win, which would set a career high. He dropped to 9-2 in 11 starts on the road this year.
No. 9 batter Melky Cabrera had three hits for New York, which outhit the Red Sox 14-4.
Ortiz's 25th homer cut New York's lead to 3-1. Second baseman Robinson Cano made an athletic, twirling play to retire Mike Lowell on a grounder that deflected off Clemens. With runners at the corners, Clemens retired Jason Varitek on an inning-ending grounder.
Cabrera's two-out RBI single put New York ahead in the second. Cabrera moved up on a wild pitch and Damon followed with a two-run single, skillfully stroking a full-count fastball through the hole on the left side.
Damon, who hit a tiebreaking homer in Tuesday night's 5-3 victory, is hitting .344 since July 21 with four home runs and 23 RBIs.
The 13 hits allowed by Beckett were the most off a Boston pitcher since Curt Schilling also gave up 13 on April 22, 2004, at Toronto. ... The farthest the Yankees were out of the wild card this season was 9 1/2 games through games of July 7. ... The sellout crowd of 54,986 included Paul McCartney and actor Kevin Bacon. ... Farnsworth didn't allow a run in his previous seven appearances, giving up only one hit. ... Beckett allowed three or more runs in an inning for only the sixth time this year, according to the Elias Sports Bureau. ... Eric Hinske started in left field for Ramirez and made a nice play on Rodriguez's third-inning single, starting a relay that cut down A-Rod after he rounded first base too far. Hideki Matsui followed with a triple but was stranded. ... The Yankees are 31-11 in their last 42 home games. ... Lowell extended his hitting streak to 11 games. ... Youkilis set a career high with his 14th homer.