The Yanks have played at top level the past two days, taking a pair of hard-fought, well-pitched games from the Sox’ top starters. Yesterday, Rocket gutted his way through 5 no-hit innings before David Ortiz put a definitive end to his bid with an upper-deck shot. By then the Yanks had a 3-0 lead on Josh Beckett, who was en route to giving up a career-high 13 hits, but showing his mettle by repeatedly striking his way out of trouble, and finding what he needed to keep the Sox in the game. Alex finally chased him with two outs in the seventh, with a line-shot home run to the left-field corner on a curveball falling out of the zone. It was a game outing. The Yanks got a solid inning of relief from the Viz, but Farns was up to his usual tricks, allowing a 2-run shot to Kevin Youkilis, and forcing Mo into a 4-out save. He accomplished this with apparent east, finally getting Dustin Pedroia to end the game on a comebacker, with Papi in the on-deck circle. Phew. Did we mention that Manny was dressed but sat out with a strained oblique? I’m sure that disappointed some of his hometown contingent. But it sure makes things easier. Elsewhere, the M’s lost again at the Angels, so the Yanks are in an essential tie for the WC. Tonight, the M’s play at Cleveland, and tomorrow in Toronto—that’s tough. Another promising matchup for baseball fans today in an afternoon Bronx start: Wang vs. Schilling. Yanks sure could use a sweep.