BOSTON (AP) -For one night, anyway, Coco Crisp got the better of Johnny Damon.
The slumping Red Sox center fielder hit a two-run triple past a lunging Doug Mientkiewicz to tie it, then scored the go-ahead run to cap a five-run eighth inning and lead Boston to a 7-6 victory over Damon and the New York Yankees on Friday night.
Just minutes before, Damon - the man Crisp replaced when the one-time Red Sox star bolted for the Bronx before last season - grounded out with the bases loaded.
Alex Cora floated a blooper just behind shortstop Derek Jeter to drive in Crisp with the eventual winning run.
``I was excited. You saw me kind of do a Hulk Hogan flex or something there,'' Crisp said. ``It makes you excited and it feels really, really good to come through like that.''
Crisp finished the game 2-for-4, with two RBIs, while Damon went 0-for-5 with two strikeouts and an RBI.
Damon has started the season off strong, while Crisp has struggled at the plate. But their numbers drew closer, with Crisp going into Saturday's game notching up to .192, and Damon falling .267.
The Sox answered Damon's departure after the 2005 season by signing Crisp to take his place - in center field and in the leadoff slot, though he's since been dropped to the eighth in the order.
Damon, for one, said he would not be surprised if Crisp topped his four-year stint with the team that reached legend-status in 2004 when the Red Sox won their first World Series win in 86 years.
``If you look back at my numbers here, they were all right,'' Damon said. ``We're not talking about me with a deeper breath. I don't think I set the standards high.''
Damon's statistics with the Red Sox were strong, but he also added a dumb-luck mystique in his four seasons in Beantown - wearing a shaggy beard, an aw-shucks smile and clubbing a signature grand slam in the second inning of Game 7 against the Yankees in the 2004 AL championship series that Boston won after losing the first three games.
Crisp started out last year in good form, bringing a similarly lighthearted attitude and making some sensational catches, including a gravity-defying swipe of the Mets' David Wright in the left-field gap to preserve a midseason win.
But a fracture in Crisp's left index finger hobbled his swing. He finished the season playing in just 105 games, batting .264 with just 36 RBIs. With this season's slow start, Red Sox fans have begun to grumble about a replacement.
Crisp, fresh off batting practice where he wore a Virginia Tech hat in honor of the victims of Monday's campus massacre, said he never thinks about Damon.
``He's a good ball player, one of the best leadoff hitters in the game,'' Crisp said. ``But, I don't think about the whole shoes-to-fill thing. Never do.''
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