There have been times the last few weeks when the Red Sox appeared intent on getting games over with as quickly as possible. The lack of enthusiasm was almost understandable given the state of their season.
That hasn’t been the case against the Yankees this week.
The passion was plentiful at Fenway Park Wednesday night as the Sox were beaten, 5-4, by their old rivals in a game that lasted nearly four hours and included a series of ejections.
“We don’t want to lay down for anybody,” Jarrod Saltalamacchia said.
The game nearly took an ugly turn in the eighth inning when umpire Alfonso Marquez called Cody Ross out on strikes with a runner on second and two outs.
The 3-and-2 pitch looked like a strike, albeit low and on the outside corner. After stepping toward first base, Ross turned at Marquez and held his bat overhead as though wielding an ax. A savage argument ensued.
Ross was swiftly ejected, as was third base coach Jerry Royster. Manager Bobby Valentine pushed Ross away from the umpire and then, after returning to the dugout, was ejected.
Valentine returned to the field and shouted at Marquez for another minute. He has been ejected six times this season, a team record.
“Cody was really upset. I was just doing everything I could do to get Cody away from him,” Valentine said. “He should be upset. He was battling his butt off and representing the tying run and winds up getting called out. So he’s upset. He’s trying; he’s trying hard.”
Ross was not available for comment.
Curtis Granderson drove in three runs with a pair of home runs for the Yankees, who remain tied atop the American League East with the Orioles.
Rafael Soriano got the last four outs for his 37th save. He allowed a solo home run in the ninth inning to Saltalamacchia, who also doubled and tripled.
Mike Aviles reached on a two-out error to give the Sox one more chance. But Jacoby Ellsbury, who had a walkoff single on Tuesday, grounded back to the mound.
The Sox, down, 5-1, in the seventh inning, scored the final three runs of the game.
“I really liked the way we kept coming back,” Valentine said.
The Sox have lost five of their last six games and 12 of 14. They have not won consecutive games since beating Kansas City at Fenway Aug. 26-27.
At 33-42, the Sox are assured of having a losing record at home for the first time since going 39-42 in 1997.
Red Sox starter Aaron Cook (3-10) faced the Yankees July 27 in the New York and allowed six runs on seven hits over four innings. He was better Wednesday night, giving up three runs in five innings, but left the game trailing, 3-1.
Granderson had a solo homer in the fourth inning and Robinson Cano a two-run shot.
“You make two mistakes to hitters like that and you pay for it, said Cook , who is 1-9 with a 5.40 ERA in his last 12 starts.
With the Sox down, 3-1, Alfredo Aceves allowed a single by Derek Jeter in the seventh, then a blast to right by Granderson. The ball landed several rows behind the visitors’ bullpen.
With two outs, Aceves gave up a long double to center by Nick Swisher and Valentine came to take him out of the game.
Rather than hand the ball to the manager, which is the custom, Aceves gave it Saltalamacchia and walked around the mound on his way back to the dugout, going well out of his way to avoid Valentine.
Valentine chuckled when asked about it.
“Who cares if he showed me up?” he said. “If I have to explain Aceves’s actions, I’ll wind up going across the river and work for Harvard.”
Aceves was suspended three games by the team last month for an incident that included an angry argument with Valentine when he was taken out of the closer’s job.
Aceves said there was no friction with Valentine.
“I’m good,” he said. “Ask him if he’s good. I don’t know.”
Yankees starter David Phelps, a 25-year-old rookie, handled the Red Sox effectively. He allowed one run on five hits with a walk and five strikeouts.
The only time the Sox touched him was in the fourth, when Dustin Pedroia doubled and scored on a single by James Loney.
Pedroia singled in the sixth and left the game between innings, having been informed his wife had gone into labor. with their second child.
“I got the word that it was time and told him,” Valentine said. “I told him to leave.”
The Sox scored two runs against the Yankees bullpen in the seventh inning.
Saltalamacchia doubled off Cody Eppley and took third when Nava doubled off the wall in center off lefty Boone Logan. Saltalamacchia had to hold at third to see if Granderson would catch the ball.
Saltalamacchia was 3 for 3 with a walk after missing three games with back spasms. The three extra-base hits were a first for him. He has 24 homers. and 54 RBIs.
“Salty has had a really good year for us this year,’’ Valentine said. “It’s totally unappreciated by some.”