The Boston Red Sox defeated the New York Yankees 6-4 to open a three-game series that will decide the leader in Major League Baseball’s American League East division.
The Yankees and the Red Sox hold the top two places in the five-team AL East with 33-25 and 34-26 records respectively.
The Red Sox, who opened the season with six straight losses, got their fourth win in a row with the victory last night at Yankee Stadium. New York began a 10-game homestand with its fourth loss in 10 games.
Jacoby Ellsbury hit a home run and Adrian Gonzalez had a run-scoring triple and scored on Kevin Youkilis’s sacrifice fly to give the Red Sox a 3-0 lead in the first inning before Robinson Cano’s run-scoring single made it 3-1.
Dustin Pedroia drove in a run with a double in the second for the Red Sox and David Ortiz hit a two-run home run in the fifth, his 14th of the season, for a 6-1 Boston lead.
A Nick Swisher double in the fifth drove in Jorge Posada and Russell Martin to make it 6-3 before Posada singled to score Brett Gardner in the ninth.
Jon Lester allowed eight hits and three runs and struck out five in six innings to improve his record to 8-2 for the season.
Jonathan Papelbon, pitching while he appeals his three-game suspension for making contact with an umpire on June 4, earned his 12th save this season and 200th for his career by pitching the ninth inning.
New York replaced Freddy Garcia (4-5) after he surrendered four hits and four runs in 1 2/3 innings.
“I can’t get anybody out, and I didn’t have the chance to make adjustments,” Garcia said of his brief stint on the mound.
Yankees shortstop Derek Jeter had two hits to move within 12 of 3,000.
Posada replaced Mark Teixeira, who left the game in the bottom of the first after he was hit in the right knee by a Lester pitch. The team said he sustained a deep knee bruise.
“I’ve never seen him show that much pain before,” Yankees manager Joe Girardi told reporters. “He’s tough. You know, he’s played with a broken toe, he’s played with a lot of ailments, but he was in a lot of pain, and it was scary.”
The series continues tonight and concludes tomorrow.