Garcia shuts down Red Sox, Yanks win 9-1

Freddy Garcia wants to keep starting for the Yankees.

The 35-year-old right-hander pitched six scoreless innings

Saturday in his last regular-season outing, helping New York beat

the Boston Red Sox 9-1 and improving his chances of earning a

postseason start.

”I need to pitch good today,” Garcia said. ”I was really

happy about it, and now I look forward to my next start. I don’t

know when, but hopefully, they will make a decision and let me

know. … Hopefully, they will give me the ball and I’ll be there

to pitch. That’s what I do.”

The Yankees so far have a first-round playoff rotation of CC

Sabathia and rookie Ivan Nova. Phil Hughes tested his bad back in a

bullpen session and was very positive, but he could end up in a

relief role because of his experience there. A.J. Burnett, one of

the starters Sunday in the split-doubleheader, has struggled again

in the second half. And Bartolo Colon has faded.

”He’s definitely one of the guys that we’re considering. Freddy

is a guy who’s been there and done all that,” manager Joe Girardi

said. ”So, as we move forward, we’ll continue to look at all these

things. But today, he pitched great.”

Garcia (12-8) allowed 15 runs in his previous three outings but

kept Boston at bay with slow breaking pitches. On his final batter,

Garcia fielded Marco Scutaro’s comebacker and nonchalantly pounded

the ball in his glove before tossing to first.

Derek Jeter capped a six-run second inning with a three-run

homer, rookie Jesus Montero had four RBIs in finishing a triple shy

of the cycle and the Yankees dropped the Red Sox to 4-15 since

Boston held a nine-game lead over the Rays in the AL wild-card race

on Sept. 4. Tampa Bay’s 6-2 win over Toronto cut the Red Sox lead

to 1 1-2 games with four to play.

The Yankees clinched home-field advantage through the AL

championship series when Detroit lost to Baltimore later

Saturday.

Before a regular-season record crowd of 49,556 at the new Yankee

Stadium, the AL East champion Yankees used their ”A” lineup for

the opener of the series that was pushed back by a rainout Friday.

They quickly roughed up Jon Lester (15-9).

By the ninth, all the starting position players except Nick

Swisher were out of the game.

Montero hit the fourth homer of his brief big league career,

doubled in two runs in the third and had an RBI single in four

at-bats. Russell Martin backed his declaration of dislike for the

rival Red Sox with a two-run single.

”We’ve said he’s a dangerous bat,” Girardi said of Montero.

”We’ve said that all along.”

Boston had been 6-0 at Yankee Stadium this year and 11-4 against

New York overall. Lester had already beaten Garcia twice this

season and had won each of his last four starts in the Bronx.

”A disappointing game,” Red Sox manager Terry Francona said.

”We didn’t finish a couple of plays, and they made us pay.”

With runners on first and second, shortstop Scutaro went deep

into the hole to field Andruw Jones’ grounder. He seemed to have a

chance to get the lead runner at third base but stumbled slightly

and had to throw across his body to second. His throw was late,

leaving the bases loaded.

Montero then hit a sharp grounder out of Scutaro’s reach for the

first run. Martin followed with a sinking liner to left field that

hit off the glove of a sliding Carl Crawford for two more runs.

”I just tried to make a play at it. Didn’t make it,” Crawford

said.

Jeter, whose batting average is up to .297 after a first-half

slump, followed with a drive into the right-field seats to make it

6-0. Before the game, the Yankees captain carried the bat Roger

Maris used to hit his 61st homer onto the field as part of 50th

anniversary ceremony.

”We need to stay sharp. There are a few more games until the

playoffs start, so we need to keep it going,” Jeter said.

Lester gave up a two-out, two-run double to Montero in the third

and was done, having given up eight runs. After Lester retired the

first four batters, the Yankees were 8 for 12 against him.

The short outing – 55 pitches 2 2-3 innings – might make it

easier for Francona to use Lester on short rest in Wednesday’s

regular-season finale.

Boston’s starters fell to 3-10 with a 7.34 ERA in the last 19

games.

Montero, the Yankees’ top prospect, connected off Junichi Tazawa

in the sixth for his fourth homer in 51 major league at-bats. All

his home runs have gone to the opposite field in right.

NOTES: The game lasted 2 hours, 59 minutes – speed baseball as

far as these two teams go. … Jeter has hits in 18 of his last 20

games. … Francona said he’s still unsure how Kevin Youkilis

(sports hernia) can help the team. ”He’s will to try to do

anything we ask him to do,” Francona. The Red Sox are going to

give it a couple more days to see how he feels. … Michael Jordan

watched the game from a suite. … Boston’s John Lackey and Tim

Wakefield face Burnett and Nova in the split-doubleheader

Sunday.