NEW YORK (AP) — Brett Gardner capped a slump-busting performance with a go-ahead, two-run triple off Craig Kimbrel in the eighth inning, Aaron Judge followed with a homer and the New York Yankees rallied to beat the Boston Red Sox 9-6 Wednesday night for their 17th victory in 18 games.
Kimbrel (1-2) entered with two on and one out to face Gardner seeking the first five-out save of his career. Gardner drilled a full-count pitch into left-center, well over the head of center fielder Mookie Betts, who was playing shallow. Neil Walker scored easily from third and rookie Gleyber Torres raced from first and slid past a lunging tag attempted by catcher Christian Vazquez.
Judge followed with a line drive to center measured at 117 mph off the bat, his ninth homer of the season. He had three hits and three RBIs as New York won its eighth straight overall and 11th in a row at home.
Aroldis Chapman pitched the ninth for his ninth save. J.D. Martinez got a hit off Chapman and ran into the closer trying to round first base. Martinez argued for interference, but the umpires held him at first on a grounder hit inside the bag. Chapman struck out Mitch Moreland to end it.
Gardner doubled and scored twice earlier in the game after manager Aaron Boone predicted he would soon break out. The Yankees’ speedy leadoff man had batted .147 without an extra-base hit over his previous 19 games, but Boone was confident Gardner would contribute soon based on his exit velocities and other internal metrics.
New York (26-10) broke a tie with Boston for first place in the AL East and has sole possession of the best record in the majors for the first time since July 27, 2012. The Yankees are on a 35-8 tear in the Bronx since Sept. 2, including the postseason, and at 16-5 have the best home record in the majors this year.
The Yankees had walk-off wins in three of their previous five home games. This rally came an inning earlier.
Hanley Ramirez put Boston ahead 6-5 with a two-run homer in the seventh. Ramirez turned on a hanging slider from reliever Chad Green and crushed it to the back of the second deck in left field for his fourth homer. He admired the shot from home plate, then thumped his chest after rounding third base during a leisurely home run trot.
Giancarlo Stanton drove in two with a go-ahead double off Rick Porcello in the third inning a day after hitting a pair of solo homers in a 3-2 Yankees victory. It’s the first time Stanton has RBIs in consecutive games this season, and he improved to 10 for 19 with seven RBIs against Boston during his first season in pinstripes.
Mitch Moreland and Andrew Benintendi homered as Boston chased Masahiro Tanaka after 5 1/3 innings. Tanaka allowed four runs.
Yankees reliever Jonathan Holder (1-1) cleaned up a mess left by Chasen Shreve in the eighth, getting Benintendi to ground out with the bases loaded.
Porcello allowed five runs in 5 1/3 innings — his first time giving up three or more runs this season.
Moreland dove to snag Gardner’s shot down the first base line to end the fourth. A half inning later, Judge made a diving catch to rob Martinez of a hit in right field to end the top of the fifth.
Tuesday’s 3-2 win by the Yankees was the highest-rated game on the YES Network since Derek Jeter’s home finale in 2014, drawing more than 600,000 total viewers. It was the first time Boston and New York met with the majors’ two best records since 2002, per the Elias Sports Bureau.
IN THE STANDS
Rudy Giuliani, the former New York City mayor and current lawyer for President Donald Trump, watched the game from the second row directly behind home plate.
Red Sox: LHP David Price was diagnosed with carpal tunnel syndrome after twice experiencing numbness in his pitching hand this season. Manager Alex Cora called it “good news compared to anything else.” Price will throw at Yankee Stadium on Thursday before being re-evaluated. … 2B Dustin Pedroia (knee) will play five innings in a game at extended spring training Thursday. Cora is still unsure when Pedroia might be ready to return. … RHP Steven Wright (domestic violence suspension) pitched six innings of one-run ball for Triple-A Pawtucket on Tuesday. His next appearance will be out of the bullpen.
Yankees: 1B Greg Bird is set to begin a rehab assignment Thursday with Class A Tampa as he works back from ankle surgery on March 27. He had been playing in extended spring training. … 3B Brandon Drury (severe migraines) will have his rehab assignment moved from Double-A Trenton to Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre when Trenton goes on the road this weekend. The Yankees want Drury close enough to New York that he can visit doctors in the city.
Left-handers CC Sabathia and Eduardo Rodriguez face each other in the series finale. The 37-year-old Sabathia has allowed just one earned run in four starts since returning to the Yankees from a brief DL stint. Rodriguez struck out 10 last time out against Texas, but he’s also allowed five earned runs in each of his past two outings.