Edge to Yankees
They rally past Red Sox for series win
The bases were loaded with two outs in the bottom of the ninth inning last night. The Red Sox were down by two runs against the Yankees and Mariano Rivera, but had the right man at the plate in Adrian Gonzalez.
Rivera doesn’t watch other teams celebrate from the mound very often, but has blown five saves this season. Those fans who had endured a long night at Fenway Park were standing in anticipation.
Gonzalez took a two-strike pitch from Rivera that was low and on the outer corner of the plate. On a night when his strike zone had been tight, umpire Alfonso Marquez called Gonzalez out to end the game.
Sitting in front of his locker after a 4-2 loss, Gonzalez looked up as reporters entered the clubhouse.
“That pitch was low, I should still be hitting. That’s all I have to say,’’ he said.
An attempt at a follow-up question was politely batted away.
“That’s it,’’ Gonzalez said, getting up to trudge to the showers.
Replays showed the pitch was close. Rivera usually doesn’t need much help, but may have gotten a little in notching his 36th save.
The Yankees looked relieved as they walked out of Fenway Park, having taken two of three from the Sox to move within a half-game of first place. The race to win the American League East may just be heating up.
The Sox are 11-4 against the Yankees this season but the teams have split their last six games. They will meet again in New York Sept. 23-25.
The Yankees have won four of their last five. The Sox are 3-3 on their homestand with Texas arriving for a three-game series tonight.
“We’re playing better against them,’’ Yankees manager Joe Girardi said. “They beat us up pretty good there for a while. We’re just pitching a lot better now.’’
Dustin Pedroia gave the Red Sox a 2-1 lead in the fourth inning, driving a two-run homer to center field off A.J. Burnett. It was his 18th of the season, a career high.
The Sox knocked Burnett out of the game in the sixth inning. Pedroia singled with one out and stole second before David Ortiz drew a walk. That was it for Burnett after 96 pitches.
Lefthander Boone Logan came in and struck out Carl Crawford. Girardi went to his bullpen again, this time for righthander Corey Wade. Jed Lowrie made good contact, but a diving Curtis Granderson caught his liner to right-center. That saved a run.
“Huge play at the time,’’ said Sox manager Terry Francona.
Sox starter Jon Lester was able to go only five innings, holding the Yankees to one run on seven hits and three walks over 114 pitches. He put runners on base in every inning, but the Yankees were 0 for 4 with runners in scoring position against him after Robinson Cano’s double in the first inning.
Former Yankee Alfredo Aceves, reliable all season, was on the mound in the seventh inning.
With one out, he got ahead of Andruw Jones. But Jones fouled off eight two-strike pitches before drawing a walk on the 14th offering.
Jesus Montero, playing in his first major league game, was next. Aceves got ahead of him then threw a pitch that Marquez ruled struck Montero.
“The ball just hit his uniform,’’ Francona said.
Francona went to Daniel Bard, who had allowed only three of the 29 runners he had inherited this season to score.
Bard threw two sliders past a swinging Russell Martin. Three straight fastballs missed. Martin then fouled off a slider before lining a high fastball to the gap in right to drive in two runs.
“The 1-2 pitch I thought was a pretty good pitch, maybe an inch off,’’ Bard said. “I guess [Marquez] got it right, but it was a good pitcher’s pitch. The last fastball caught too much of the plate. I just didn’t put him away.’’
Martin took third on the throw to the plate and pumped his fist at the Yankees dugout. With the infield in, pinch hitter Eric Chavez singled to right to give the Yankees a 4-2 lead.
Aceves (9-2) took the loss, his first in relief since May 26, 2009. Until last night, he had won 18 straight decisions out of the bullpen.
Despite the relative lack of offense, the game lasted 4 hours 21 minutes.
“It’s kind of ridiculous,’’ Pedroia said. “But that’s what we expect. These two teams grind it out every time.’’
Peter Abraham can be reached at email@example.com. Follow him on Twitter@PeteAbe.