Dwight Evans hit two home runs, each with a man on, to help the Boston Red Sox beat the New York Yankees, 7-6, tonight.
He hit his first in a five-run first inning, and the Red Sox took a 7-2 lead in the third inning. But it took left fielder Jim Rice's throw to the plate in the ninth inning to keep the Yankees from tying the game.
Joe Sambito earned his fifth save the hard way, by stranding six Yankees in the last two innings. In all, the Yankees left 15.
"Tonight we played the toughest ball game we've played all year," first baseman Bill Buckner of the Red Sox said. "They had the bases loaded in the ninth, one out and the toughest hitter they have Don Mattingly coming up. Matter of fact, they had Rickey Henderson, Mattingly and Dave Winfield, three potential future Hall of Famers, coming up."
"They had the game in their hands in the ninth inning," Evans said, "but we won. This might be the biggest game of the year for us."
Sambito, Boston's fifth pitcher, started the ninth by allowing Butch Wynegar and Willie Randolph to single. When Dale Berra also singled, third base coach Don Zimmer waved Wynegar home. But Rice's throw got Wynegar, who does not run well.
The Yankees had no nonpitchers to pinch run; they had used all their nonpitchers and started the game a man short because outfielder Ken Griffey didn't show up.
Zimmer returned to the Yankees last week after the Chicago Cubs fired him, along with his boss, Jim Frey.
"The grass was slow out there and I didn't think there would be a play at the plate," Zimmer said. "It turned out to be a terrible play. What more can I say?"
When Sambito walked Henderson to load the bases, the Yankees were still in business. But Mattingly flied to shallow right and Winfield grounded out to end the game.
Sambito had entered the game with two outs and the bases loaded in the eighth. He struck out Mike Pagliarulo.
Both of Evans' homers, his sixth and seventh of the season, came off starter Joe Niekro (7-4), who was chased in the third inning. Alfonso Pulido blanked the Red Sox over the last 6 2/3 innings after Evans' second homer provided the 7-2 lead.
The victory was Boston's second in two nights over New York and gave the Red Sox a 5 1/2-game lead over the Yankees in the American League East.
Bob Stanley (4-2), the fourth of five Boston pitchers, went 1 2/3 innings for the victory.
Boston starter Rob Woodward was lifted in the fifth inning when the Yankees made it 7-3 on an unearned run.
With one out in the Boston first, Ed Romero singled and Buckner followed with his seventh home run of the season. One out later, Don Baylor singled and Evans homered into the Boston bullpen, a drive of well over 400 feet to left-center. Tony Armas walked and Rich Gedman's double made it 5-0.
After the game, Manager Lou Piniella of the Yankees said that Henderson had told him that he saw Griffey Monday night and Griffey said he was "going downtown."
"Usually when a player is late, or he is sick and has to miss a game, you get a call," Piniella said. "The manager is supposed to know where the player is. But I haven't talked to him and I don't know his whereabouts. . . . I hope he is back tomorrow."
Third baseman Wade Boggs of the Red Sox left before the game for his parents' home. His mother was killed in a car accident earlier yesterday.
Angels 4, Rangers 0: Mike Witt won a nine-hit shutout in Anaheim, thanks to Doug DeCinces' three-run homer in the fifth inning.
Witt (8-4) walked one and struck out five in pitching his sixth complete game and second shutout of the season. The victory moved the Angels and Kansas City 1 1/2 games behind the first-place Rangers in the AL West.
The Rangers, who lost their fourth straight, hadn't been shut out. Every other team in the league had been blanked at least once.
Mickey Mahler (0-2), a last-minute starter when Ricky Wright became ill, fell behind by 1-0 in the first when Dick Schofield walked and scored on Brian Downing's double.
DeCinces' homer was the first off Texas pitching in 80 innings