BOSTON -- At the point when they were halfway home in this four-game series before the All-Star break, the Yankees already had secured what they wanted to accomplish.
And that's the big-picture view of Saturday's doubleheader split by the Yankees.
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The Yankees showed up here Friday with a 71/2-game lead over the Red Sox and were determined not to give their rival any signs of hope. After winning the first two games, the Yankees ensured that they will enter the break with no worse than that 71/2-game lead over Boston.
The Yankees' 6-1 victory in Game 1 Saturday made Game 2 hardly crucial -- and they played like it, committing four errors in a 9-5 loss in which they led 3-0 after an inning.
The Yankees hit seven homers in the two games to account for all 11 of their runs.
"We didn't play well,'' Derek Jeter said of the second game. "I thought Phil [Hughes] did a great job. You can't keep giving teams extra outs. That's what we did. We gave them way too many outs and they capitalized.''
But winning a doubleheader isn't easy in any circumstance, especially after playing 3 hours, 59 minutes Friday night and 3:07 in the afternoon heat.
"Wish we could have taken the second one, but they just got on a streak and scored more runs than us,'' said Andruw Jones, the hands-down star of the day for the Yankees after hitting three home runs and making two standout defensive plays in left. "But it had been a long day, I think everybody's kind of tired, and we have to come back tomorrow and take the series.''
Said Jeter: "I don't think you hope for a split. You go out there and try to win every game you play. But they beat us. We've been playing well; we didn't play well tonight. You give those guys credit. They pitched well. We scored those three runs early and they settled down.''
Hughes wasn't able to hold his early 3-0 lead as Boston scored five unanswered runs. He allowed five runs, three earned, and 10 hits in 51/3 innings. In his previous 11 starts, he was 8-2 with a 3.34 ERA.
"Errors happen,'' Hughes said, blaming his stuff instead for his tough day. "It was a grind today. Everything was a tick off.''
As poorly as they performed in Game 2, the Yankees played a solid first game in temporarily moving 91/2 games ahead of Boston. "It's big,'' Nick Swisher -- whose three-run homer in the first inning of Game 1 snapped an 0-for-17 slide and gave the Yankees a 3-0 lead -- said between games. "Coming off a decently rough series in Tampa, losing two of three, coming in here in a rivalry setting and to grab the first two, you have to feel real comfortable about that. But we still have two more games to go and we're feeling pretty confident about what we're doing.''
Jones got his three-homer day started early, going back-to-back with Swisher in the first and with Jayson Nix in the fourth, with Nix's drive clearing the Green Monster seats and landing on Lansdowne Street.
The Yankees continued their first-inning tear in Game 2 as Mark Teixeira's 15th homer, a three-run shot to dead center off lefthander Felix Doubront, made it 3-0. That gave them 12 first-inning runs in the first three games of the series. But Doubront, unlike fellow lefty Franklin Morales in Game 1, settled down. He did not allow another run until the seventh, when Jones cleared the Green Monster for the third time, cutting the Yankees' deficit to 5-4. But the Red Sox, aided by an error and Cory Wade's poor pitching, scored four in the seventh to take a 9-4 lead.
Pedro Ciriaco (4-for-5 with four RBIs) had a three-run double in the sixth for Boston. Eric Chavez homered in the ninth for the Yankees' final run.
"We still have a chance to win the series, and that's what [you hope for],'' Joe Girardi said. "Four-game series can be hard. You have a long day today, you had a long night tonight. I thought our guys played really, really hard and for that I'm really, really proud.''