- The Washington Times - Tuesday, October 14, 2003

BOSTON. — They may love to play their “Cowboy Up” tune here at Fenway Park, but the Yankees had their own musical preference yesterday — the rhythm and blues song “Boom, Boom, out go the lights.”

David “Boomer” Wells may not have turned out the lights on the Red Sox, but the Yankees left-hander certainly dimmed them considerably by holding the vaunted Boston offense to just one run on four hits over seven innings and leading New York to a 4-2 win in Game 5 of the American League Championship Series.

The Yankees now take a 3-2 lead in the best-of-7 series, which returns today to Yankee Stadium for Game 6, where left-hander Andy Pettitte will take the mound for New York against Boston’s John Burkett — a mismatch that likely will lead to the strains of “New York, New York” by the end of the game and put Bronx Bombers in their 38th World Series.

At least those 34,619 Red Sox fans who came to Fenway so hopeful after their Bosox tied the series at 2-2 the night before came away with a souvenir to remember their season on the ranch — a plastic white cowboy hat, given away by the Boston Globe, part owners of the Red Sox.

Actually, I wonder how many of those Boston fans would have taken the hats if they knew they were distributed by the New York Times — owners of the Globe and the company listed in the Red Sox media guide as a minority owner of the franchise. After all, New Yorkers wear black hats in Boston.

As crazy as Saturday’s Game 3 spectacle was at Fenway, that’s how subdued Game 5 was yesterday. Wells, who historically has been terrible at Fenway (10-10, 5.12 ERA before yesterday’s game), trumped the ballpark pattern with his ability to win in the postseason (now 10-2).

“I live for this time,” Wells said. “I get an opportunity to pitch in a big game, I’m not afraid to take the ball.”

The Yankees took a 3-0 lead in the second inning off Boston starter Derek Lowe on a two-run single by Karim Garcia, one of the bullpen brawl culprits from Saturday. He was greeted with chants of “Jailbird, Jailbird” from the Fenway crowd when he came to bat. Alfonso Soriano added an RBI single later in the inning.

Garcia wasn’t expected to be in the lineup. He injured his hand in the bullpen fight with a Boston groundskeeper at the end of Game 3. (The police investigation is continuing, but the Boston Globe reported yesterday that assault charges may be filed against Garcia and reliever Jeff Nelson after the series ends.) However, after watching Garcia blast some balls in batting practice yesterday, manager Joe Torre changed his mind and penciled in Garcia. It paid off.

The Red Sox had two shots at Wells, and they came up short both times.

The first Boston chance came in the third when Wells hit leadoff batter Trot Nixon and then gave up a single to Jason Varitek. But after going 3-2 on Johnny Damon, Wells got him to ground out to first and then Todd “Home Run” Walker to pop up to second. With runners on second and third, Nomar the star came to the plate. Of course the Red Sox would have been better off with Johnny Pesky, and he’s 84 years old. Garciaparra, who is batting .105 in the series, is killing the Red Sox, and he euthanized that third-inning threat when he struck out on a 3-2 pitch.

Red Sox manager Grady Little says he is sticking by his shortstop. “I feel like every day I write Nomar’s name in the lineup, he’s going to get four or five hits that day, and that’s not going to change,” Little said.

If he doesn’t get those hits today, Little won’t be writing Nomar’s name — or that of any other Red Sox — in the lineup because this season will be over.

The second Boston threat came in the fifth. Manny Ramirez, who hit a solo home run off Wells in the fourth, came up with bases loaded and two outs. He hit a weak grounder to third, and Aaron Boone touched third for the force.

The Red Sox appeared to be on the ropes emotionally after losing Game 3, but the rainout Sunday enabled Boston to shuffle its starting rotation and use Tim Wakefield, who was brilliant in Monday’s victory. But now it appears to be game, set and nearly match with Pettitte — another big game postseason pitcher — going for New York today in Game 6.

“I think once you’ve had success, it does carry over and gives you a certain amount of confidence when you take the mound in some big games,” Pettitte said.

Confidence and success. Tell me which team taking the field today is associated with those two words.

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