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It took a painful three days of baseball for the Boston Red Sox to prove to themselves and everyone else that they couldn't just glide by the New York Yankees, win the American League East and live happily ever after.
And yesterday a Paul Blair single in the bottom of the ninth pushed across the decisive run to give the Yankees a 5-4 win, a sweep of the three-game series with Boston, and a warning that Thurman Munson and Co. have it in them to shut off the Back Bay Power Plant when the situation calls for it.
But nothing ever comes easy when these two clubs meet. Especially victory. Yesterday's contest saw the Sox tally in the first inning for a 1-0 margin when Carlton Fisk sacrificed Rick Burleson in.
But the Yanks then jumped all over starter Reggie Clevaland (Munson, Roy White, Mickey Rivers, and Chris Chambliss jumped the hardest) and streaked to a 4-1 lead, while the Boston bats-lukewarm at best in the first two tilts of the weekend--were no better than popsicle sticks for the first eight innings, as Yankee hurler Don Gullett cooled any Sox offense.
Meanwhile, the 55,039 who jammed Yankee Stadium for the third straight day saw the top four men in the New York batting order put on a hitting clinic for their fans.
In the first Rivers singled and scored on singles by White and Chambliss. In the third New York got two more on safeties by Rivers, White, Munson, and a sacrifice fly by Chambliss. Finally, the quartet got its final tally in the seventh, when Rivers singled, moved to second on a walk to White, and scored on Munson's single to left. Chambliss did not figure in that one. Tough luck, Chris.
Down by three, Boston finally woke up and thanks to a walk to Fisk, a double by George Scott, a single to left-center by newcomer Tommy Helms, and a base hit by Steve Dillard, put Gullett to bed and tightened things up at 4-3.
With men on second and third and one out, Rick Burleson grounded out off reliever Dick Tidrow to score pinch-runner Rick Miller with the typing run.
Ace Bill Campbell came on for Bob Stanley in the bottom of the ninth and after a few near-miss pitches and an intentional walk to Chambliss, had loaded the bases for Paul Blair to play hero. Blair singled over a drawn-in Butch Hobson and Yanks had reciprocated the Sox three-game sweep of a week ago. Let the dogfight resume, nobody is going to win the 'East easy.
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