BOSTON -- The pitching battle for the ages lived up to its billing. And not just because Roger Clemens and Pedro Martinez were on the mound.
In a game that featured brawls, brushbacks and plenty of bad blood, Clemens pitched the New York Yankees past the Boston Red Sox 4-3 Saturday for a 2-1 lead in the best-of-seven AL championship series.
Martinez grabbed 72-year-old coach Don Zimmer by the head and threw him to the ground during a fourth-inning melee. The fight began after Martinez threw behind Karim Garcia's head in the top of the fourth, and Clemens threw a high pitch to Manny Ramirez.
The Rocket, however, never got flustered against his former team in his Fenway Park farewell, and a most bizarre chapter was added to baseball's most bitter rivalry.
"We've upgraded from a battle to a war," Boston manager Grady Little said.
Derek Jeter hit a tying homer to help the Yankees overcome a 2-0 first-inning deficit, and Hideki Matsui had a go-ahead double for New York.
"It was huge, especially playing here," Jeter said. "This won't mean anything unless we come out tomorrow and win."
David Wells pitches for New York in Game 4 Sunday, opposed by John Burkett.
"We're to play baseball, that's first and foremost in our minds," Yankees manager Joe Torre said. "We win two more games and we get to go to the World Series."
Saturday's game was billed as a heavyweight matchup between two pitchers who have won a total of nine Cy Young Awards, and the fighting began just after Matsui's RBI double put New York ahead 3-2.
Martinez's next pitch was behind Garcia's head, and plate umpire Alfonso Marquez ruled that it nicked Garcia's back before hitting his bat. Marquez issued a warning to both dugouts about throwing inside. Torre thought Martinez deliberately threw at Garcia.
"That's no mistake in my mind," Torre said. "You can't sit around and say, 'OK, do what you want."'
Little's take was different. "Pedro never takes a shot at someone's head like that," he said.
Alfonso Soriano then came up with the bases loaded and no outs, and he grounded to shortstop, with Boston turning a double play as Nick Johnson scored from third.
Garcia slid hard, knocking down second baseman Todd Walker. The two began shoving each other, and both teams slowly came out of the dugouts, yelling. Yankees catcher Jorge Posada, Clemens and Zimmer were among the loudest.
When play resumed, Enrique Wilson popped out, ending the inning.
Two umpires pulled Clemens aside as he went to the mound for the bottom of the inning.
With the count 1-2 to Ramirez leading off, Clemens threw a high pitch, at the level of Ramirez's head, but not far inside. Ramirez bailed before the pitch even reached the plate, raised his bat slightly and shouted at Clemens, who yelled back.
Both dugouts and bullpens emptied, with Zimmer coming all the way across the infield to the first-base side. The coach headed for the 31-year-old Martinez and lunged at him. Martinez sidestepped him, grabbed his bald head with both hands and tossed him to the ground. Zimmer landed face down and rolled over on his back.
"I think Zim's a little old for that," Little said.
Zimmer remained on the ground and Yankees trainer Gene Monahan treated the coach for what appeared to be a cut on his head. Sitting in the dugout, Zimmer had a small bandage on the bridge of his nose. Later, he was smiling and laughing.
Zimmer, the Red Sox manager when they lost the famous 1978 AL East playoff to the Yankees, has a plate in his head, the result of a beaning in 1953. He is in his 54th season in professional baseball.
After a 10-minute delay following the fight, Ramirez struck out on the next pitch.
To keep the crowd calm, the baseball commissioner's office and the Red Sox immediately cut off beer sales in the ballpark.
But the fighting wasn't over.
There was a skirmish in the Yankees' bullpen in the middle of the ninth inning, one that appeared to involve a member of the Boston grounds crew. Garcia, New York's right fielder, cut his hand and was replaced by Juan Rivera.
Both pitchers are known for intimidation. Clemens hit Mets star Mike Piazza in the head with a pitch three years ago, then threw the jagged barrel of a shattered bat toward him during the World Series. Clemens hit Boston's Kevin Millar with a pitch on July 5, and two days later Martinez hit Jeter and Soriano.
Martinez wasn't as dominant as usual Saturday, throwing far more curveballs than normal - this coming off two tough outings in the first round, when he threw a season-high 130 pitches in the opener against Oakland and 100 in Game 5.
Appearing fired up after the fight, he retired his final nine batters. But he still lost for the first time in the postseason, dropping to 4-1.
Neither Clemens nor Martinez lasted to the end. Clemens allowed two runs and five hits in six innings, struck out seven and walked one. Just two of the hits came after the first.
Martinez gave up four runs and six hits in seven innings, struck out six and walked one.
Boston closed within a run in the seventh when Felix Heredia relieved and walked David Ortiz leading off. Millar then singled off Jose Contreras, sending Ortiz to third. Trot Nixon then bounced into a double play that scored a run - the third double play turned by the Yankees.
Mariano Rivera came in to start the eighth and retired six straight batters for his first save of the series, sealing New York's second straight win. He has retired 21 of 22 hitters in the postseason.
At the start, it looked much like the first Clemens-Martinez matchup, in Game 3 of the 1999 ALCS, won by Boston 13-1.
Clemens was serenaded with singsong taunts of "Ro-ger, Ro-ger" in the bullpen in front of the right-field bleachers, and again when he warmed up on the mound.
Johnny Damon, returning to Boston's lineup, opened the bottom of the first with an infield single off the glove of third baseman Wilson, who started because he entered 10-for-20 against Martinez.
Walker doubled off the Green Monster, and Ramirez hit a two-run single.
New York got a run in the second when Posada doubled and scored on Garcia's two-out single. Jeter homered over the Green Monster in the third to tie it.
Of course, another Yankees shortstop, Bucky Dent, homered over The Wall to put New York ahead in the one-game playoff for the AL East title in 1978.
Notes: Jennifer Lopez and Ben Affleck watched the game from front-row seats next to the Boston dugout, with the "Today" show's Katie Couric, the girlfriend of Red Sox part-owner Tom Werner, in the second row. ... Also in the first row, near the Yankees dugout, was former Red Sox general manager Dan Duquette. ... Johnson made a great diving catch on Ortiz's foul liner near first for the second out of the ninth.
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