BOSTON - Nick Johnson and Jorge Posada wouldn't let the New York Yankees bullpen give the game away.
That's why Andy Pettitte came away with a win and Pedro Martinez didn't.
Pettitte outlasted the fatigued Red Sox ace Saturday and led the Yankees to a 10-7 victory over Boston, surviving early trouble to move into a tie for the league lead with his 17th win. New York extended its lead in the AL East to 41/2 games.
"This could be the biggest game of the year," Yankees manager Joe Torre said.
Posada homered twice and Johnson had four hits and four RBIs. Pettitte allowed three earned runs on seven hits in seven innings, striking out seven to win for the fourth consecutive start and the 12th time in 13 decisions.
"I really felt like I got into a good groove," said Pettitte, who allowed three runs in the first before settling down. "I was a little winded early, throwing all those pitches. But then when the team scored those runs to get me back, I was able to get a second wind."
Mariano Rivera earned his 30th save despite contributing to Boston's three-run eighth that cut New York's lead to one.
Coming on with one out, the bases loaded and an 8-4 lead, Rivera gave up a two-run double to pinch-hitter David McCarty and two walks to score another before striking out Bill Mueller to end the threat.
"I know there's going to be a lot of talk about Rivera and what he gave up," Torre said. "But the fact that he struck out the last hitter in the eighth inning speaks volumes of him, more so than the other stuff."
Martinez, who missed his Aug. 21 start because of a severe fever and sore throat, allowed five runs on nine hits and struck out three in four innings. He was not available for comment after the game.
"He wasn't 100 percent out there today," Boston manager Grady Little said. "He's still a little bit affected by the sickness he had last week and it caught up with him pretty good there about the fourth inning. He's had better days, and he'll have better ones later."
Posada hit his second homer in the ninth, a two-run shot off Byung-Hyun Kim, to make it 10-7.
Nomar Garciaparra, who was a triple shy of the cycle Friday night, got his major league-leading 13th of the season but first in 65 games in his first at-bat. He also had a single in the fifth and led off the eighth with a double high off the Green Monster as Boston loaded the bases.
McCarty doubled off Rivera to make it 8-6, then Lou Merloni walked to load the bases again and Johnny Damon walked to pull Boston within one. Mueller struck out swinging on a 93 mph fastball.