Wakefield Strikes Again

Should the Boston Red Sox eventually win the ALCS, it's becoming pretty clear who their series MVP should be. Tim Wakefield notched his second win of the series against the Yankees by putting in another dominating performance. Wakefield and his knuckler kept the Yankee bats at bay as Boston evened the series with a 3-2 victory in game four.

After a rough first inning in which he looked all too hittable, Wakefield (2-1) settled down and his best pitch started dancing away from Yankee bats. The 37-year old set a new personal best with eight strikeouts over seven innings of work. He allowed just one run on five hits and four walks.

Meanwhile, the Red Sox' other MVP candidate went to work at the plate. Todd Walker led off the fourth inning with a long solo homerun to right field off of Mike Mussina. Walker's blast was his fifth of the postseason and it gave Boston a 1-0 lead.

Mussina was pitching brilliantly in his second start of the series, and only made a few bad pitches. The pitch to Walker was clearly not in a good spot, and Mussina made a similar mistake to Trot Nixon in the fifth inning that the outfielder sent over the centerfield wall to give Boston a 2-1 lead.

The Yankees scored in the top of the fifth on a Derek Jeter double that hit third base and dropped into the outfield to score a run. It was Jeter's second RBI hit of the season and, if it hadn't hit the bag, it very well could have scored another run.

But Nixon's homerun gave Boston back the lead, and they didn't relinquish it for the rest of the game.

Boston got an important insurance run in the seventh inning. After Kevin Millar walked with one out, Nixon creamed a ball off of the Green Monster for a double. With runners at second and third, Mussina walked Bill Mueller intentionally to bring up Doug Mirabelli.

But Jason Varitek came trotting in from the bullpen to pinch hit for Mirabelli, and hit into a fielder's choice to score a run. Varitek hit the ball sharply to shortstop where Derek Jeter fielded and fired to second for one out. Alfonso Soriano relayed the throw to first base, but Varitek hustled and beat out the throw.

With the score now at 3-1, Boston's bullpen took over. Mike Timlin relieved Tim Wakefield in the eighth inning and retired the side in order to remain perfect in the playoffs.

Scott Williamson pitched the ninth inning for Boston and, after striking out Nick Johnson with an inside slider, allowed a pinch-hit homerun to Ruben Sierra that made the score 3-2. Williamson bounced right back and struck out David Dellucci on the same pitch he got Johnson with.

With two outs the Yankees' final hopes rested on Soriano. But Williamson made the Yankee phenom look completely overmatched and struck him out swinging on the exact same pitch that he got the first two outs with. In doing so, Williamson earned his second save of the playoffs.

Mussina (0-3) still couldn't pick up a win despite pitching well. He allowed just three runs on six hits and a pair of walks in 6 2/3 innings and struck out 10 batters. Felix Heredia and Jeff Nelson – who came out of the bullpen to a crowd chanting, "We want Nelson!" – pitched the rest of the game perfectly for New York.

With the series now evened at two games apiece, game five will take place in Fenway Park at 4:18 pm Tuesday. David Wells (1-0, 1.17) will take the mound for the Yankees against Boston's Derek Lowe (0-2, 3.86).

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