- Associated Press - Monday, May 16, 2011

NEW YORK (AP) - Jorge Posada still has unwavering support in the Yankee Stadium stands. Now, a tumultuous weekend behind him, New York could use a few of those big hits he used to deliver all the time.

Posada apologized to the Yankees on Sunday for taking himself out of the lineup the day before, blaming the messy public spat with the team on this: “I had a bad day.”

“All the frustration came out,” said the slumping star, who met with manager Joe Girardi and general manager Brian Cashman and told them he was sorry. “It was just one of those days you wish you could take back.”

Posada was not in the starting lineup against Boston left-hander Jon Lester, but that was about strategy, not punishment. That said, the Yankees did contact the commissioner’s office during Saturday night’s blowup about possible recourse _ a pursuit they’ve since dropped.

When the Red Sox went to their bullpen, Posada came off the bench. He entered as a pinch-hitter in the eighth inning late Sunday night, triggering a boisterous standing ovation, but couldn’t prevent the Yankees from losing their season-high fifth straight.

“He’s a hometown hero. He’s still part of the team. He’s still good in my books,” said Kevin Dee, a fan from Manhattan who was in the crowd of 46,945.

With the Yankees trailing by two, Posada drew a leadoff walk from hard-throwing reliever Daniel Bard but was stranded. He didn’t come up again and New York lost 7-5, completing Boston’s first three-game sweep in the Bronx since April 2004.

Kevin Youkilis hit a three-run homer, David Ortiz had a go-ahead drive off Freddy Garcia (2-3) and the Red Sox (20-20) reached .500 for the first time this season.

“Actually feels good. Hopefully this is a step in us moving forward,” manager Terry Francona said. “It’s not really what our goal is, but we’re making strides. We played a good series.”

Lester (5-1) shrugged off a slow start to win his fifth straight decision and improve to 7-1 against the Yankees. Jarrod Saltalamacchia hit his first homer with Boston and Jonathan Papelbon earned his seventh save.

After all the tension and turmoil Saturday, Posada smiled and laughed Sunday afternoon while speaking with reporters in the clubhouse. The fiery five-time All-Star appeared generally relaxed despite his .165 batting average.

Even though Posada didn’t start, the Bleacher Creatures chanted his name during their daily “roll call” and the rest of the Yankee Stadium crowd cheered. The 39-year-old Posada, who has helped New York win five World Series titles and seven AL pennants, stood up in the dugout and waved.

Jorge is loved in our clubhouse. Jorge is loved by the fans. Jorge has meant a lot to this organization, and I’m not surprised,” Girardi said. “This has been a great player for a long time.”

After the game, as the Yankees quickly packed for an overnight flight to Tampa Bay, Posada was unavailable for comment.

“That’s been come and gone and handled very well and we’re glad it’s behind us,” Alex Rodriguez said.

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