Wakefield, bullpen keep Yankees at bay

Alex Rodriguez flopped all night when the New York Yankees needed a big hit.

Tim Wakefield won in his return from the disabled list and the Boston Red Sox moved a step closer to squashing New York's playoff hopes, beating Andy Pettitte and the Yankees 7-3 on Tuesday night.

Jason Bay drove in two runs, David Ortiz had a strong game at the plate and Boston got an outstanding effort from its bullpen to close out the opener of a key three-game series.

Johnny Damon homered twice for the Yankees, but Rodriguez grounded into two double plays -- one with the bases loaded -- and struck out for the final out.

This is Boston's final regular-season visit to Yankee Stadium, the site of so many memorable moments throughout the teams' long rivalry. Next season, New York moves into a lavish new ballpark being built across the street, and this isn't the way A-Rod and the Yankees wanted to say goodbye.

The three-time MVP finished 0-for-5 and was booed loudly as New York fell six games behind Boston, which leads the AL wild-card race by a slim margin over the Minnesota Twins. Rodriguez also committed an error at third base.

With a couple more wins this week, the Red Sox can leave the Yankees with a huge hill to climb and little time left to do it. New York hasn't missed the playoffs since 1993.

Wakefield (8-8) gave up three runs and eight hits in five innings. The 42-year-old knuckleballer hadn't pitched since Aug. 6 because of tightness in his right shoulder.

Five Red Sox relievers combined for four scoreless innings, and Jonathan Papelbon got four outs for his 34th save in 38 chances.

Usually reliable in big games, Pettitte (13-10) was touched for six runs and 10 hits in 4 2/3 innings.

Ortiz hit two doubles and walked twice. Playing his first game in the rivalry, Bay had an RBI single in a two-run third and a sacrifice fly in the sixth.

Rodriguez flied out with two on in the fifth. With the Yankees trailing 7-3 in the seventh, he came up with the bases loaded and grounded into an inning-ending double play against Justin Masterson.

That left A-Rod 1-for-10 this season with the bases loaded -- 0-for-7 when there were less than two outs.

Rodriguez, who struck out twice, also bounced into a double play that ended the third. He has grounded into nine double plays in his last 19 games.

NOTES: RHP Joba Chamberlain, on the DL with rotator cuff tendinitis, will throw another bullpen session Thursday. The Yankees will then determine what his next step is.

* Playing in shallow right field, Boston 2B Dustin Pedroia booted Jason Giambi's leadoff grounder in the eighth -- ending his 61-game errorless streak.

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