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The bumbling Boston Red Sox lost yet again, with A.J. Burnett making his most impressive start in nearly three months and Jorge Posada hitting a two-run homer that led the New York Yankees to a 6-2 victory in the opener of Sunday's day-night doubleheader.
Boston's AL wild-card lead was cut to a half-game over Tampa Bay, which beat Toronto 5-2. What was a runaway nine-game advantage heading into play on Sept 4 would be completely gone by the end of Sunday if the Yankees swept.
The Red Sox have lost four straight and at 5-18 (.217) are on track for their worst September since going 4-18 (.182) in 1926, according to STATS LLC. Tim Wakefield (7-8) dropped to 1-5 in his last 10 starts.
Derek Jeter had three hits to lift his average to .300 at the end of the game for the first time since April 2. Starting with July 9, the day he reached 3,000 hits, he is batting .346 following a .257 start.
New York improved to 6-1 on its final regular-season homestand. Having secured home-field advantage throughout the AL playoffs, they will open the division series at Yankee Stadium on Friday night.
Sloppy in the field again, the Red Sox fell behind early for the second straight day. Catcher Jarrod Saltalamacchia had an error and a passed ball in a two-run first inning. In the fifth, he had the ball kicked out of his mitt by Jeter, who was trying to score from second base on Alex Rodriguez's single. Jeter reached second on left fielder's Carl Crawford's fielding error.
Boston has committed 16 errors in the last 11 games. The Yankees are 6-11 against Red Sox this season but have won four of last five.
Wakefield pitched four-plus innings, giving up five runs - three earned - five hits and five walks.
Burnett (11-11) allowed five hits - three to Jacoby Ellsbury - and two runs in 7 2-3 innings, his first outing of more than six innings since he went eight on July 29. He was 0-4 in his 10 previous starts against Boston but was in control throughout this one.
Booed relentlessly nearly all season, the tattooed right-hander left to a loud ovation in the eighth. After receiving a high-five from his catcher and a pat on the back from Joe Girardi, Burnett, holding his glove, thrust his right arm in the air in acknowledgment of the cheers.
David Robertson got four outs to finish, twice stranding a runner on second. Hitters are 0 for their last 22 against him with runners on base, according to STATS.
Two of Ellsbury's hits were homers, giving him 30 for the season and making him the first player in Red Sox history to have at least 30 homers and 30 stolen bases in a season. The two RBIs gave the leadoff batter 100.
With an ERA that swelled to 5.28 coming in - second worst behind Brad Penny among qualifying starters - Burnett went more than six innings for first time since July 29.
Looking ahead to playoffs, Yankees manager Joe Girardi was able to rest his regulars, saying before the game that looking toward playoffs he has to be smart with his players.
Batting fourth for the first time since 2009 because of his experience against Wakefield, Posada connected in the third inning for his fifth homer against the knuckleballer. The 40-year-old with a diminished role this year, hit cleanup for the first time in two years and was given a curtain call on the last day of New York's regular-season home schedule.
The 45-year-old Wakefield was making his 627th and possibly last appearance for the Red Sox. He earned his 200th career win on Sept. 13, but gave up six runs - two earned - in a five-inning start a week ago.
In that game, Saltalamacchia had four passed balls and he got off to a shaky start that led to two runs Sunday.
Brett Gardner opened the Yankees' first with a bunt single and stole a base, drawing a wild throw from Saltalamacchia. Jeter bunted safely and Gardner moved up.
Gardner scored when Saltalamacchia fumbled the ball for an error as he tried pull it out of his oversized mitt and make a quick throw with Jeter stealing second.
After Rodriguez grounded out, Jeter advanced to third on a passed ball. Saltamacchia had a shot at nailing Jeter at third but his throw was wide of the base. Jeter scored on a wild pitch from Wakefield.
Boston starters have gone five innings or less in 15 of 23 games this month.
This program aired on September 25, 2011. The audio for this program is not available.
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