Flare for the dramatic
Ciriaco's blooper in 10th enables Sox to take series
NEW YORK — Pedro Ciriaco beat the Yankees with a drive to deep center field on Saturday. A day later, a 120-foot bloop was all he needed.
“I guess I got a little bit lucky again,” said Ciriaco, the latest unlikely hero of baseball’s best rivalry after his single in the 10th inning beat the Yankees, 3-2, on Sunday night.
The Red Sox are hoping that two dramatic late-inning victories against the Yankees are what finally propels them into the thick of the playoff chase after a season of frustration.
“We basically have two months of playoff baseball left,” Adrian Gonzalez said. “We’re going to try to make it happen that way. Guys are stepping in and stepping up. It’s awesome.”
It was an unusual winning rally against David Robertson (1-4).
Jarrod Saltalamacchia drew a leadoff walk before Will Middlebrooks squared to bunt. The pitch struck Middlebrooks in the hand then hit umpire Brian O’Nora, knocking him back.
As Middlebrooks went to first, the umpires called him back, saying the pitch hit his bat. Manager Bobby Valentine argued the call and was ejected. Josh Beckett was then ejected from the dugout.
Middlebrooks showed the umpires the seam marks on his hand, to no avail.
“I had to refocus and get back in the at-bat,” Middlebrooks said. “I had been hit, but what are you going to do?”
Middlebrooks, bruise and all, singled to left field. Ryan Sweeney couldn’t get a bunt down but moved Saltalamacchia to third on a fielder’s choice grounder to second.
With the infield in, Ciriaco then dropped a softly hit ball onto the grass just beyond first base.
“We’ll take bloops. We need them,” Valentine said.
Ciriaco is 11 of 22 in five games against the Yankees this season with six RBIs. On Saturday, he had an RBI triple in the ninth inning to win the game, the ball eluding Curtis Granderson after he misplayed it.
“I try and have fun every time I come to the plate and make it happen,” Ciriaco said. “We’re happy we got a win. We pitched very good, we played good defense, and we scored one more run.”
Alfredo Aceves (2-6) finished off the Yankees in the bottom of the inning. He had blown the save in the eighth. Aceves struck out Raul Ibanez to end the game and pumped his fist in celebration.
The Red Sox are back at .500 at 51-51 and start a 10-game homestand tonight. They finished a difficult trip to Texas and New York at 3-3.
Felix Doubront had a terrific start, allowing one run over 6⅓ innings. But after stranding two runners in the seventh, the Red Sox bullpen could not hold a 2-1 lead in the eighth.
Andrew Miller, who got two big outs in the seventh, got the first two outs in the eighth before Andruw Jones doubled to left field. Valentine kept Vicente Padilla in the bullpen and went to Aceves for what he hoped would be a four-out save.
Aceves, released by the Yankees before the 2011 season, needed one pitch to blow the save as Russell Martin ripped a fastball into center field for an RBI single. It was the fifth blown save in 27 chances for Aceves.
Doubront shut out the Yankees through six innings, allowing only two hits. Both were singles by Nick Swisher. He did walk five, but came up with big pitches when he needed.
“He pitched his heart out,” Valentine said.
The Yankees left runners stranded in scoring position in the second and fourth innings.
Ciriaco, starting in place of Mike Aviles at shortstop, made a diving stop of a hard shot off the bat of Jones in the second inning and got a force out at second base.
With two on and two out in the fourth inning, Doubront got Ichiro Suzuki to pop to shortstop.
The Yankees broke through in the seventh inning when Martin led off with a home run over the easy-to-reach fence in right field.
Suzuki followed with a slow roller down the third base line on which Middlebrooks didn’t have a play. He has hit safely in all six games with the Yankees since being acquired from Seattle.
Doubront struck out Jayson Nix for the first out. Looking for a double play, Valentine called in Matt Albers.
Suzuki foiled that strategy by stealing second. Derek Jeter then singled to right field, too hard for Suzuki to score on the arm of Sweeney.
Miller was next out of the bullpen. He got Curtis Granderson to pop to left field, too shallow to drive in the run. Mark Teixeira then swung at the first pitch and grounded to second to end the inning.
Doubront allowed one run on four hits and struck out eight. In three starts against the Yankees this season, the lefthander has allowed only five earned runs over 18⅔ innings while striking out 21.
The Sox took a 2-0 lead in the second inning against Hiroki Kuroda.
Gonzalez led off with a single to left field. Saltalamacchia then walked with one out. Kuroda struck out Middlebrooks for the second out.
Sweeney, starting his first game since last Monday, doubled to left-center to score two.
Sweeney was 3 for 37 in his previous 12 games. But he lined a splitter into the gap and Saltalamacchia came all the way around from first.
Kuroda quieted the Red Sox after that, getting double plays in the third and fourth innings.
Jacoby Ellsbury led off the sixth inning with a double to the gap in left field. Carl Crawford hit a liner up the middle.
Jeter made what initially looked like a terrific diving catch. But the ball popped loose and Crawford had an infield single.
Dustin Pedroia followed with a fly ball to deep left field. Ellsbury tagged and went to third base.
Gonzalez, who leads the majors with a .418 batting average with runners in scoring position, got ahead, 2 and 0, in the count. But he grounded to second for an inning-ending double play.