for this game

Wang takes no-hitter into seventh before Yanks complete sweep

Aug 30, 2007 - 10:28 PM By Larry Fleisher PA SportsTicker Contributing Writer

BRONX, New York (Ticker) -- The New York Yankees already had a share of the wild card. Thanks to a near-historic effort by Chien-Ming Wang on Thursday, the Yankees can renew their sights on the American League East.

Wang took a no-hitter into the seventh inning and Robinson Cano homered twice as the Yankees completed a three-game sweep of the Boston Red Sox with a 5-0 victory.

Following a 2-5 road trip, the Yankees won their third game in a row and will maintain at least a tie with the Seattle Mariners in the wild card. They could go ahead if the Mariners lose Thursday night in Cleveland.

Despite the sweep, Yankees manager Joe Torre and captain Derek Jeter are not necessarily concerning themselves with the standings.

"It's important that we got our record back to 16 games over (.500)," Torre said. "We look now to try to get to 20 over and hopefully we can carry this over. At this point it shouldn't matter who you're playing."

"We got to worry about playing everyday," Jeter said. "That's pretty much it. It's important because we need wins. I'd tell you the same thing if we were playing a high school team. We need victories that's basically it, regardless of who we play.

The Yankees entered this series eight games out of first place in the East before slicing it down to five. Since falling behind by 14 1/2 games, the closest they have been to the Red Sox has been four games, which is where New York was 11 days ago.

Wang (16-6) won that game on August 19, pitching six innings in a 9-3 victory over the Detroit Tigers. But on an 85-degree afternoon, he was much sharper but seeing him finish the game was going to be a difficult decision due to a high pitch count. He finished with 103 pitches, including 63 for strikes.

"It was going to get tough for us at that time because of his pitch count," Yankees pitching coach Ron Guidry said. "You're hoping that he still has a no-hitter going late in the game because you're going to give him a shot.

"You almost have to give him a shot but you worry about him and you worry about his pitch count. He's more important to this (team) here and if he continues to pitch for another 10 years he might get one."

The 27-year-old righthander yielded just four walks through six frames before finally seeing his no-hit bid end in an interesting top of the seventh inning.

"No, I was just thinking don't give up any runs," Wang said when asked of the no-hit bid.

Kevin Youkilis led off with a grounder to shortstop Derek Jeter, who shorthopped a throw to first base that forced first baseman Jason Giambi off the bag. The play was ruled an error and the no-hitter remained intact.

Two pitches later, Wang's bid for the first Yankee no-hitter since David Cone's perfect game in 1999 ended as Mike Lowell extended his hitting streak to 12 games with a single to right field.

"Concentrate and go to the next batter," Wang said about losing his chance for history.

After Lowell's base hit, the events at Yankee Stadium really became interesting.

J.D. Drew hit a grounder to third baseman Alex Rodriguez, who attempted to tag Youkilis before the Boston first baseman ran out of the baseline.

Rodriguez recovered to throw out Drew at first and, after voicing his displeasure about Youkilis' route to third, the umpires conferred before deciding to call Youkilis out.

"They did the right thing because it's all about perspective," Torre said. Sometimes when the one who makes the call can't see the angle and it shows (differently). The only thing I tried to appeal to them that Alex wasn't trying to make a token tag. He reached out and I think that showed he was trying to make a play."

Youkilis stormed off the field and Boston manager Terry Francona argued before being ejected by second base umpire Derryl Cousins, whose initial call was overruled by third base umpire Mark Carlson. After play resumed, Wang finished his outing by striking out Jason Varitek.

"I wouldn't be able to give it to you word for word," Francona said. "What upset me was I thought Derryl Cousins, it was his call. So to get overturned by somebody who had not as good as view was frustrating."

"On the play, we had a little lack of communication," Cousins said. "I had a safe call for no tag. Carlson was making a call on out of the baseline. We just had to get together to make sure we had it right. Basically, I think Francona wanted to get run there. He just persisted in the discussion long after it was finished and we had explained the call."

It was the second straight game the Yankees flirted with history. On Wednesday, Roger Clemens took a no-hitter into the sixth before allowing a solo home run to David Ortiz.

In that contest, he got some unexpected defensive help from Giambi and, in this one, Wang had some similar assistance. Giambi helped complete a 5-4-3 double play in the second inning and made a nice stop on Dustin Pedroia's groundout to end the third.

It also was the second time this season that Wang took a no-hitter into the late innings. On May 5, he had a perfect game in the eighth inning before allowing a solo home run to Seattle's Ben Broussard.

"He established all three pitches early," Francona said. "He had a fastball with good movement and velocity, a changeup, a breaking ball. If you looked at the scoreboard you could see we had very little. He was tough from the first pitch (of the game)."

The Yankees did not pound Curt Schilling (8-6), who allowed two runs and six hits in seven innings. But two of those hits were solo home runs by Cano, who hit an 85-mph fastball over the left-center field fence in the third and a drilled a first-pitch splitter to a similar spot in the fifth.

That was enough for Wang, who despite tying a season worst with four walks, finished with five strikeouts and also recorded 10 outs on the ground. Wang won his third straight start, improving to 15-3 in his last 21 starts and has won his last three outings vs. the Red Sox.

"Wang was terrific," Torre said. "The Red Sox have had pretty good luck with him but he was terrific."

Rookie reliever Joba Chamberlain worked around a hit by Pedroia in the eighth and the Yankees tacked on three runs in the bottom of the inning off Hideki Okajima.

Derek Jeter, who had four singles, scored on Bobby Abreu's double. During Hideki Matsui's at-bat, Abreu and Rodriguez pulled off a double steal and scored when catcher Jason Varitek's throw to third skipped into left field.

Not allowing a run in his first 11 frames in the majors, Chamberlain was ejected by home plate umpire Angel Hernandez at the start of the ninth when he unleashed two fastballs over the head of Youkilis.

"It makes no sense and unfortunately in a lot of situations, the umpires do not apply common sense," Torre said. "We've seen it happen too many times and something has to change."

"I'm new to the rivalry," Chamberlain said. "I want to send a message but not that way."

Although the Yankees said there was no intent and Torre blasted the umpires, Youkilis felt otherwise.

"That's the second time," Youkilis said. "Scott Proctor hit me in the head. Coincidence? I don't know.

"It doesn't look good. Two balls go at your head when you have a 0.00 ERA and you know the strike zone pretty good. You're going to go out there and think there's an intent to hit me in the head."

It was the second time this season Youkilis was plunked in the late innings. On June 1, Scott Proctor hit him in the ninth inning of a contest that saw five hitters get plunked by pitches.

Edwar Ramirez came on to seal the final three outs for New York, which record its first sweep of the Red Sox at home since June 29-July 1, 2004.

The crushing sweep ended a 6-4 road trip for Boston, which will host the Baltimore Orioles starting Friday.

The teams will conclude their season series with three games in Boston between September 14-16. Before that series the Yankees will face Seattle, Tampa Bay, Toronto and Kansas City while the Red Sox will take on Baltimore, Toronto and Tampa Bay.