By Larry Fine
NEW YORK (Reuters) - The Boston Red Sox notched their sixth win in a row over arch rivals New York on Wednesday, veteran knuckleballer Tim Wakefield picking up the win after Boston's bats hammered the Yankees in an 11-6 victory.
The 44-year-old Wakefield, the oldest active pitcher in Major League Baseball, pitched 5 1/3 innings and allowed five runs on five hits. He was bailed out by former Yankees pitcher Alfredo Aceves, who came on in relief to pitch the rest of the way, giving up just one run for his first save of the season.
"My knuckleball was moving pretty good," said Wakefield, who tosses the tantalisingly slow pitch at around 60 miles per hour. "But I benefited from our offense tonight, jumping to that lead early, and Aceves pitched unbelievable the rest of the way for us."
Boston manager Terry Francona also praised Aceves, who signed with the Red Sox before the season.
"He comes in and finishes a game, that's not an easy thing to do," said the manager. "He can change speeds, he can throw three (different) pitches. It's terrific."
Boston have now won seven of eight games this season against the Yankees.
"It's June now and games are starting to mean a little more than they did in April and May," said Wakefield. "We're playing good baseball right now."
Boston built up an early 7-1 lead against the sloppy Yankees, and after New York crept to within 8-5 in the sixth inning added three more runs in the ninth on home runs by Carl Crawford and J.D. Drew.
The Red Sox improved to 35-26 to move into the AL East lead while their division rivals dropped to 33-26.
Boston, who erupted for three runs in the first inning of Tuesday's 6-4 victory over the Yankees, did it again on Wednesday with David Ortiz blasting a two-run homer in the first inning.
The Red Sox added a single run in the second and three more in the fourth off Yankees starter A.J. Burnett (6-4), who was tagged with the loss.
Wakefield improved to 3-1 this season and increased his career win total to 196, the most among active Major League pitchers.
(Additional reporting by Philip Barbara)
(Editing by Peter Rutherford)