Yankees thrash Red Sox with a sumptuous sixth

BOSTON (Reuters) - The New York Yankees blew open a close game with a sixth inning onslaught to defeat rival Boston Red Sox 10-3 on Friday, giving the World Series champions their fifth straight win.

The Yankees sent 11 batters to the plate during the sixth inning and scored six runs to open a 9-1 lead and chase Red Sox starting pitcher Josh Beckett from the game.

"It went south as fast as it could," Red Sox manager Terry Francona told reporters.

"He (Beckett) started out the game as good as we've seen him, probably better. As good as he was commanding, all of a sudden it was gone."

Alex Rodriguez doubled to center field to start the game deciding sixth inning and Beckett put Robinson Cano on first after hitting him with a pitch that forced the second baseman out of the game.

Beckett issued an intentional walk to Brett Gardner to load the bases but then walked Francisco Cervilli, bringing Rodriguez in for the first run.

Randy Winn singled in Ramiro Pena, who had replaced Cano, then Beckett hit Derek Jeter to bring Gardner in to score.

Marcus Thames singled in Cervilli and Mark Teixiera followed with another single to score Winn.

"I just had no idea where the ball was going," Beckett explained. "It just wasn't going where I wanted it to go."

Rodriguez's sacrifice fly to center scored Jeter, the final run of the inning, before Pena struck out.

Beckett had started well, striking out six and allowing just one hit in the opening three innings before Nick Swisher broke a scoreless tie in the fourth inning with a three-run homer for the Yankees.

The Red Sox responded in the bottom of the fourth when J.D. Drew scored on a sacrifice fly by David Ortiz. The Red Sox also added one run in each of the sixth and eighth innings.

It would be the only offense Boston could generate against Yankees starter Phil Hughes, who spread seven hits across seven innings with seven strikeouts to improve his season record to 4-0.

New York added to their lead in the eighth inning as Winn singled and advanced to third on a pair of wild pitches by reliever Tim Wakefield before being driven in by Thames, his second RBI.

But the injuries to Cano and Nick Johnson, who left the game after two at-bats with soreness in his right wrist, will be of concern to the Yankees.

"I didn't want to take my chances and make it worse," said Cano, who had a wrap around his swollen knee. "I've got to wait until the morning to see how I feel."

Johnson, who will be examined by a hand specialist, said "It's pretty sore. It gets sore occasionally but nothing like tonight."

(Writing by Mike Mouat in Windsor, Ontario; Edited by Patrick Johnston)