NEW YORK — The Red Sox were down to their final out against Mariano Rivera and the bases were empty on Thursday night at Yankee Stadium. It was just about the worst situation a baseball team can be in.
Desperation turned into a most unexpected victory. The Sox tied the game off Rivera, then beat the Yankees, 9-8, in 10 innings before an angry crowd of 40,481.
Shane Victorino drove in the go-ahead run. A day after they clubbed the Detroit Tigers, 20-4, the Red Sox pounded out 16 more hits. They have won three straight, six of seven, and 10 of their last 12 games.
The third-place Yankees now trail the Sox by nine games with only six games left between the teams.
Craig Breslow (5-2) pitched two scoreless innings for the win. Koji Uehara picked up his 18th save. He has been perfect in seven consecutive outings, retiring 23 batters. Uehara has thrown 26 consecutive scoreless innings.
The Red Sox scored the winning run off Joba Chamberlain (2-1) in relatively easy fashion.
Jacoby Ellsbury singled and stole second with one out. Victorino then drove in his third run of the night with a single to right field.
The go-ahead RBI was not without controversy. Victorino checked his swing on a 1-and-2 pitch but first base umpire Joe West ruled he did not go around. The single came on the next pitch.
The throw from Ichiro Suzuki beat Ellsbury to the plate. But catcher Austin Romine couldn’t handle the short hop.
Chamberlain was ejected by West as he left the mound.
The Red Sox blew a five-run lead, giving up six runs in the seventh inning as Matt Thornton and Junichi Tazawa were hit hard. Lyle Overbay, who was released out of spring training by the Red Sox, gave the Yankees an 8-7 lead with a two-run single off Tazawa.
The Red Sox were down to their final out in the ninth inning when Mike Napoli singled off Rivera. Pinch-running specialist Quintin Berry came on and stole second. He got up and took third when the throw from Romine got away.
Stephen Drew then singled to right field to tie the game. It was the fifth blown save for Rivera this season.
Yankees starter Ivan Nova lasted only four innings, giving up three runs on five hits and two walks. He struck out three and threw 96 pitches, 47 in the third inning alone when the Sox took a 2-0 lead.
Ryan Lavarnway and Will Middlebrooks started with singles. Ellsbury followed with a ground-rule double to center that hopped the fence. One run scored.
A second run scored when Victorino grounded to shortstop and Derek Jeter’s only play was to first base.
With two outs, David Ortiz was intentionally walked before Daniel Nava walked to load the bases. Napoli had a chance to break the game open but struck out looking.
The Yankees came back to tie the game against Jake Peavy thanks to some small ball.
Suzuki singled and stole second. With two outs, Brett Gardner bunted for a single. Peavy then walked Jeter on a 3-and-2 fastball to load the bases.
Robinson Cano took advantage of the mistake with a two-run double off the wall in right field. He missed a grand slam by a few feet.
Alfonso Soriano popped to left field to end the inning.
It was all Red Sox from there against Nova and the Yankees’ bullpen.
Middlebrooks lined a home run into the second deck in left field in the fourth inning. It was his 13th of the season and fourth in 23 games since he was recalled from Triple A.
Preston Claiborne started the fifth inning for the Yankees and didn’t get an out.
Victorino started it with a home run. He has 13 home runs, eight since Aug. 1. Dustin Pedroia followed with a single before Ortiz singled and Nava walked to load the bases. When Napoli grounded down the third base line, Alex Rodriguez was unable to make the play and it went for an RBI single.
The lead grew to 6-2 when Lavarnway grounded into a force at second. Jeter had a chance to turn two but was taken out by Napoli as he moved awkwardly across the bag.
Nava doubled off righthander Adam Warren with out in the seventh inning. Napoli drew his second walk before Lavarnway singled with two outs to increase the lead to a seemingly comfortable 7-2.
Not with these teams. Peavy had strung together three consecutive scoreless innings when he came back out for the seventh. Peavy had thrown 105 pitches but appeared to be in command.
The ever-determined Suzuki saw eight pitches and drew a walk to start the inning. Pinch hitter Vernon Wells then singled to center and Suzuki went to third.
In came Thornton, who allowed an RBI single by Gardner and walked Jeter to load the bases for Cano.
This time, Cano grounded into a force at second base, driving in a run.
The increasingly unreliable Tazawa was next out of the bullpen. The Sox went into a defensive shift against Soriano and he poked a single through the vacated spot at second base. That scored Gardner.
Tazawa then left a split-finger fastball up that Curtis Granderson smoked off the wall in right field. Cano scored but Victorino relayed the ball in quickly to keep Soriano at third base.
Tazawa struck out Rodriguez but could not dispatch Overbay. He grounded a 1-and-2 pitch into right field to score two runs and give the Yankees an 8-7 lead.
The Yankees sent 10 batters to the plate in the inning, scoring six runs on five hits. Peavy was charged with four runs on six hits over six innings. He walked three and struck out four.Peter Abraham can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter @PeteAbe.