Playoff Series: Game 7 of 7

Boston leads 4-3 (as of 10/20)

Game 1: Tuesday, October 12
NY Yankees10
Game 2: Wednesday, October 13
NY Yankees3
Game 3: Friday, October 15
NY YankeesPostponed
Game 3: Saturday, October 16
NY Yankees19Final
Game 4: Sunday, October 17
NY Yankees4Final
in 12
Game 5: Monday, October 18
NY Yankees4Final
in 14
Game 6: Tuesday, October 19
NY Yankees2
Game 7: Wednesday, October 20
NY Yankees3

8:00 PM ET, October 20, 2004

Yankee Stadium, Bronx, New York 

123456789 R H E
BOS 240200011 10 13 0
NYY 001000200 3 5 2

W: D. Lowe (1-0)

L: K. Brown (0-1)

Boston's blow out caps unequaled comeback

NEW YORK -- Believe it, New England -- the Boston Red Sox are in the World Series. They got there with the most unbelievable comeback of all, with four sweet swings after decades of defeat, shaming the New York Yankees, the Evil Empire to the south.

Game 7 Breakdown
Johnny Damon. He had been just 3-for-29 with three runs scored in the first six games of the series. But with one swing of the bat, Damon put an end to all his personal misery. His grand slam with one out in the top of the second gave the Red Sox a 6-0 lead, an advantage they never even came close to giving up.

Kevin Brown. Joe Torre took a huge gamble by starting Brown, and it cost him dearly. In 1 1/3 innings, the 39-year-old righty allowed five runs on four hits while walking two.

Turning Point
Brown retired the first batter he faced in the second inning, but he quickly ran into trouble after that by allowing a single to Kevin Millar and issuing back-to-back walks to Bill Mueller and Orlando Cabrera. That was it for Brown. Javier Vazquez replaced him and on the first pitch Vazquez threw, Damon slammed it into the right-field seats. That was all she wrote.

It Figures
Of the 18 outs Derek Lowe recorded in pitching six innings, 12 came on ground balls.

On Deck
The Red Sox advance to the World Series. They'll play either the Astros or Cardinals on Saturday night in Game 1 at Fenway Park.

David Ortiz, Johnny Damon and Derek Lowe made sure of it.

Just three outs from getting swept out of the AL Championship Series three nights earlier, the Red Sox finally humbled the dreaded Yankees, winning Game 7 in a 10-3 shocker Wednesday night to become the first major league team to overcome a 3-0 postseason series deficit.

Cursed for 86 years, these Red Sox just might be charmed.

"All empires fall sooner of later," Boston president Larry Lucchino said.

There is no torture this time, no hour of humiliation. Better yet to Boston fans, it's the Yankees left to suffer the memory of a historic collapse.

"Not many people get the opportunity to shock the world. We came out and did it," Boston first baseman Kevin Millar said. "You know what? We beat the Yankees. Now they get a chance to watch us on the tube."

Boston didn't need any of the late-inning dramatics that marked the last three games, leading 6-0 after two innings.

Ortiz, the series MVP, started it with a two-run homer in the first off broken-down Kevin Brown, and Damon quieted Yankee Stadium in the second inning with a grand slam on Javier Vazquez's first pitch.

After Derek Jeter sparked hope of a comeback with a run-scoring single in the third, Damon put a two-run homer into the upper deck for an 8-1 lead in the fourth.

Lowe, pitching on just two days' rest, silenced the Yankees' bats and their boasting fans, who just last weekend assumed New York's seventh pennant in nine years was all but a lock. He allowed one hit in six innings then Pedro Martinez started the seventh, his first relief appearance in five years, sparking chants of "Who's Your Daddy?"

Three hits and two runs got the crowd going, but the rally stopped there and Mark Bellhorn added a solo homer in the eighth for a 9-3 Boston lead, and the bullpen closed out a five-hitter.

"It's very amazing, I think, to do what we did," Red Sox manager Terry Francona said.

Cheering of Red Sox fans could be heard in the ninth, and when pinch-hitter Ruben Sierra grounded to second baseman Pokey Reese for the final out, Boston players ran on the field and jumped together in a mass huddle.

"The greatest comeback in baseball history," Red Sox owner John Henry said.

Yankees players slowly walked off, eliminated on their home field for the second straight season.

Great Game 7 performances
Max Carey, Pirates, 1925 World Series
4-5, 3 R, 2 RBI, 3 2B (Pit 9, Wash 7)
Yogi Berra, Yankees, '56 World Series
2-3, 3 R, 4 RBI, 2 HR (NY 9, Brk 0)
Bill Skowron, Yankees, '58 World Series
2-4, 1 R, 4 RBI, HR (NY 6, Mil 2)
Willie Stargell, Pit, '79 World Series
4-5, 1 R, 2 RBI, HR, 2 2B (Pit 4, Bal 1)
Jim Sundberg, Royals, '85 ALCS
2-4, 1 R, 4 RBI, 3B (KC 6, Tor 2)
Francisco Cabrera, Braves, '92 NLCS
1-1, 2 RBI (Atl 3, Pit 2)
Fred McGriff, Braves, '96 NLCS
3-5, 4 R, 4 RBI, HR (Atl 15, StL 0)
Johnny Damon, Red Sox, 2004 ALCS
3-6, 2 R, 6 RBI, 2 HR (Bos 10, NY 3)

"I'm embarrassed right now," Alex Rodriguez said. "Obviously that hurts -- watching them on our field celebrating."

The World Series will start at Fenway Park on Saturday night against St. Louis or Houston.

"We're coming back home and we're going to party for a little while, but it's going to be a great World Series," Damon said.

There were several hundred Red Sox fans behind their dugout on the third-base side, cheering wildly as Boston players gave one another bear hugs.

Trot Nixon ran out to the center-field bleachers to greet friends, then shook hands with more along the right-field line.

Now that the Babe's team has been beaten, Boston can try to reverse The Curse, win the Series for the first time since 1918 and bring happiness to the Hub which can scarcely believe the tumultuous turn of events.

From Fenway Park to Faneuil Hall, from Boston Common to Beacon Hill, the 11th pennant for the Red Sox, the first since 1986, will be remembered as the best for one reason: Beating New York in Yankee Stadium, site of last year's Game 7 meltdown.

This was for Williams and Pesky, for Yastrzemski and Yawkey, for Fisk and Rice and even Buckner and Nomar, just a few of the hundreds who suffered the pain inflicted by their New York neighbors in a rivalry that has become baseball's best.

"That's for the '03 team, just like it's for the '78 and the '49 team," Red Sox general manager Theo Epstein said. "I hope Ted Williams is having a cocktail upstairs."

None of the previous 25 major league teams to fall behind 3-0 even forced a series to seven games. The wild-card Red Sox became only the third of 239 teams in the four major North American leagues to overcome a 3-0 deficit in a best-of-seven series and win, joining the 1942 Toronto Maple Leafs and the 1975 New York Islanders.

"The series obviously turned in that Game 4," Yankees general manager Brian Cashman said. "Then the momentum started going their way and we just couldn't hold 'em off."

It had been 100 years since Boston last won a pennant in New York on the final possible day, a 3-2 victory in a doubleheader opener at Hilltop Park in 1904. New York overcame the Red Sox by winning the final two games of the 1949 season at Yankee Stadium, the Yankees won a one-game playoff for the AL East in 1978 behind Bucky Dent's three-run homer at Fenway Park, and Aaron Boone hit the 11th-inning homer that won Game 7 last year.

New York, which dropped to 10-2 in the LCS, will no doubt face a bitter winter, with owner George Steinbrenner likely to take charge of overhauling a roster that has been short of starting pitching since the spring.

Steinbrenner wouldn't answer questions after the game, but before getting into his car he said: "I want to congratulate the Boston team. They did very well. They have a great team."

Pitching did in Steinbrenner's band of All-Stars, who won the AL East for the seventh straight season, with the Red Sox runners-up each time. Brown and Vazquez, who faded in the second half of the season, were booed by the sellout crowd of 56,129.

New York had a record $186 million payroll, far beyond Boston, which was second at $128 million. The Yankees captured six pennants in eight seasons, winning the World Series four times. But they haven't won since 2000 and couldn't finish off an opponent in the cool, efficient, ruthless way they did only a few years ago.

"It's not the same team," Jeter said. "We've had teams that have been good at it, but this is not the same team."

Comebacks From 3-0 Deficits
Sport 3-0 Deficits Comebacks
MLB 26 1
NBA 73 0
NHL 140 2
Total 239 3
SOURCE: Elias Sports Bureau

The Yankees had a 4-3 lead in the ninth inning of Game 4 on Sunday night, only to have Bill Mueller single home the tying run off Mariano Rivera and Ortiz hit a 12th-inning homer against Paul Quantrill.

They held a 4-2 lead in the eighth inning of Game 5 before Ortiz's homer off Tom Gordon and Jason Varitek's sacrifice fly off Rivera, and Ortiz's winning single off Esteban Loaiza in the 14th.

Then Curt Schilling, his right ankle held together by three sutures, beat the Yankees 4-2 Tuesday night to tie the series 3-all.

The Yankees invoked all the bad memories they could for Boston before the game: Dent threw out the ceremonial first pitch to Yogi Berra, and Reggie Jackson stood behind the cage during batting practice.

Just like last year, when the Red Sox went ahead 4-0 in the fourth inning of Game 7, Boston took an early lead.

Damon, who entered the game 3-for-29 (.103), singled past Alex Rodriguez at third base leading off and stole second. Manny Ramirez then grounded a single past Jeter at shortstop. Damon, who had to hold up to make sure the ball went into the outfield, was thrown out when left fielder Hideki Matsui relayed the ball to Jeter, who threw a strike to Jorge Posada, with the catcher blocking Damon at the plate.

That was the highlight for the Yankees.

Ortiz, who had three homers and 11 RBIs in the series, sent the next pitch into the right-field seats to put Boston ahead 2-0.

The Red Sox loaded the bases with one out in the second on Kevin Millar's single and walks to Mueller and Orlando Cabrera.

Vazquez, who gave up a team-high 33 homers, blew open the game. Damon, who hadn't homered since Oct. 1, lofted his first pitch down the right-field line, the ball landing in the front row. Jubilant Red Sox players poured out of the dugout, jumping and yelling.

Damon homered again off Vazquez in the fourth, after Cabrera walked, putting the first pitch of the at-bat into the upper deck in right.

"We stuck together," Damon said, "and erased history."

Game notes

Boston won its first five World Series appearances, the latter three with Babe Ruth, who was sold the Yankees in 1920. Since beating the Chicago Cubs for the 1918 title, Boston has lost four World Series -- to the Cardinals in 1946 and 1967, the Cincinnati Reds in 1975 and the New York Mets in 1986. ... New York had lost four consecutive games once all season, April 22-25, the first defeat at Chicago and three at home to Boston.

Copyright by STATS LLC and The Associated Press