Jorge Posada still has unwavering support in the Yankee Stadium stands. Now, a tumultuous weekend behind him, New York could use a few of those big hits he used to deliver all the time.
Posada apologized to the Yankees on Sunday for taking himself out of the lineup the day before, blaming the messy public spat with the team on this: "I had a bad day."
"All the frustration came out," said the slumping star, who met with manager Joe Girardi and general manager Brian Cashman and told them he was sorry. "It was just one of those days you wish you could take back."
Posada was not in the starting lineup against Boston left-hander Jon Lester, but that was about strategy, not punishment. That said, the Yankees did contact the commissioner's office during Saturday night's blowup about possible recourse — a pursuit they've since dropped.
When the Red Sox went to their bullpen, Posada came off the bench. He entered as a pinch-hitter in the eighth inning late Sunday night, triggering a boisterous standing ovation, but couldn't prevent the Yankees from losing their season-high fifth straight.
"He's a hometown hero. He's still part of the team. He's still good in my books," said Kevin Dee, a fan from Manhattan who was in the crowd of 46,945.
With the Yankees trailing by two, Posada drew a leadoff walk from hard-throwing reliever Daniel Bard but was stranded. He didn't come up again and New York lost 7-5, completing Boston's first three-game sweep in the Bronx since April 2004.
Kevin Youkilis hit a three-run homer, David Ortiz had a go-ahead drive off Freddy Garcia (2-3) and the Red Sox (20-20) reached .500 for the first time this season.
"Actually feels good. Hopefully this is a step in us moving forward," manager Terry Francona said. "It's not really what our goal is, but we're making strides. We played a good series."
Lester (5-1) shrugged off a slow start to win his fifth straight decision and improve to 7-1 against the Yankees. Jarrod Saltalamacchia hit his first homer with Boston and Jonathan Papelbon earned his seventh save.
After all the tension and turmoil Saturday, Posada smiled and laughed Sunday afternoon while speaking with reporters in the clubhouse. The fiery five-time All-Star appeared generally relaxed despite his .165 batting average.
Even though Posada didn't start, the Bleacher Creatures chanted his name during their daily "roll call" and the rest of the Yankee Stadium crowd cheered. The 39-year-old Posada, who has helped New York win five World Series titles and seven AL pennants, stood up in the dugout and waved.
"Jorge is loved in our clubhouse. Jorge is loved by the fans. Jorge has meant a lot to this organization, and I'm not surprised," Girardi said. "This has been a great player for a long time."
After the game, as the Yankees quickly packed for an overnight flight to Tampa Bay, Posada was unavailable for comment.
"That's been come and gone and handled very well and we're glad it's behind us," Alex Rodriguez said.
Yankees spokesman Jason Zillo said Cashman informed owners Hal and Hank Steinbrenner, along with club president Randy Levine, about Posada's apologies, and the team considers the matter closed. Zillo said the Yankees will not take any disciplinary action.
"We had a nice conversation. We talked about being emotional and going through struggles and what defines who you are. He apologized and said, 'I had a bad day,' and I said, 'I have had bad days, too,'" Girardi said. "'I know it's hard to struggle, but you're going to get through this.'
"It wasn't the typical Jorge Posada face. Yeah, he was a little emotional. I was emotional in there because he's one of my guys. I feel for what he's going through."
On the field, Posada hugged Rodriguez and chatted with other teammates during batting practice. Yankees captain Derek Jeter, one of Posada's best friends, said the issue was resolved and he saw nothing wrong with what his pal did Saturday.
"It's not the first time that someone has come out of the lineup," Jeter said. "If you need a day, you need a day. ... If I thought he did something wrong, I'd be the first to tell him."
Cashman said he saw Posada near the batting cage before the game and introduced him to Kentucky basketball coach John Calipari. Posada told Cashman they needed to talk later.
"I said, 'No problem.' I'll talk and obviously we'll get this behind us as soon as we can. We've got to focus on the Red Sox, not each other," Cashman said.
Andruw Jones was the designated hitter Sunday night in place of Posada, hitless against left-handed pitchers this season.
Jones homered in his first at-bat, and high-fived Posada in the dugout. Posada then batted for Jones in the eighth against Bard, a right-hander.
Fans applauded when Posada was shown on the big video board before the game delivering his standard recorded greeting. In the first inning, one held a sign that read, "We Stand Behind Jorge."
Before batting practice, a contrite Posada calmly answered seven minutes worth of questions from the media and then went out to hit with the other backups.
He said he was healthy enough to play — he had mentioned a stiff back after Saturday night's game, but acknowledged Sunday that even though his back was bothering him, he used it as an excuse.
"Everything happens for a reason. You learn from it," Posada said.
Even before the discord, Girardi planned to put Posada on the bench Sunday. Struggling to adapt to his new role as DH, the switch-hitter is 0 for 24 against left-handers and his batting average was the lowest for any player currently in the majors with at least 100 at-bats.
Prior to batting practice Saturday — when Posada was still slated to hit ninth against right-hander Josh Beckett — Girardi wouldn't commit to staying with Posada against lefties.
Posada does have four hits in his last 12 at-bats. He has six homers and 15 RBIs this year, but hasn't gone deep since April 23.
AP Sports Writer Howie Rumberg, AP Baseball Writer Ben Walker, AP Sports Writer Ronald Blum and AP freelance writer Adriano Torres contributed to this report.