You bring your lefty and I’ll bring mine. Respective southpaws Felix Doubront for Boston and Andy Pettitte for New York turned in quality starts through six innings Friday night, but it was the bat of Johnny Gomes that made the difference in Boston’s 4-2 victory.
Gomes clocked a two-run homer, ground rule double and scored an insurance run in the 7th inning for Boston to help the Red Sox beat the Yankees in the first meeting between the two A.L. East rivals since the first week of June. The victory pushed Boston back to 20 games above the .500 mark at 59-39 and helped the Red Sox maintain a 2.5 game lead over Tampa Bay, Friday night winners over Toronto.
Jacoby Ellsbury put a charge in the get together by opening the game with a first inning home run, his fourth of the year to give Boston a quick 1-0 lead. The Red Sox added to their advantage in the bottom of the second when Gomes followed a walk to Mike Napoli with his seventh home run of the season to move Boston in front 3-0.
The Yankees responded in the top of the fourth by scoring a run without benefit of a hit. Doubront issued a leadoff walk to Brent Gardner, who stole second, then third base, and raced home an errant throw to third by Red Sox catcher Jarrod Saltalamachia to make it Boston3, New York 1.
Hitless through the fourth, the Yankees finally solved Doubront in the fifth to make it a one run game. Lyle Overbay reached Boston’s lefty for a wall-ball double to start the frame and two outs later, scored to make it 3-2 Boston on Chris Stewart’s double off the bottom of the left-center wall. On the following at bat, Brent Gardner took a called third strike and was tossed for arguing to call to end the inning.
Doubront left the game one out into the seventh inning with a 3-2 lead. Junichi Tazawa, making his 44th appearance of the season for Boston, finished a scoreless seventh against the Yankees. Doubront’s quality start earned him his seventh win of the season against three losses as the lefty finished the night by giving up 2 earned runs on three hits while walking three and striking out five on a total of 93 pitches.
Gomes again stirred the pot for Boston in the bottom of the seventh, tagging Pettitte for a ground rule double, then moving to third on a wild pitch by Yankee reliever Shawn Kelley. Gomes scored Boston’s fourth run when A.L. Rookie of the Year candidate Jose Iglesias punched an RBI single to right field to make it Boston 4, New York 2.
Boston reliever Craig Breslow survived a single by Ichiro Suzuki and a double by Robinson Cano to escape New York’s eighth inning with no damage when Iglesias fielded a slow roller to short off the bat of Luis Cruz and threw up the first base line to Mike Napoli. Napoli fielded the throw and made a tag on Cruz for the third out of the inning. Boston closer Koji Uehara came out to retire the Yankess 1-2-3 on a total of seven pitches to close out the ninth inning and earn his 9th save of the season in 12 attempts.
The Red Sox and Yankees take their act to national television for the remainder of the weekend series. Hiroki Kuroda will face off against Boston’s John Lackey Saturday afternoon on Fox TV while the teams complete the series on ESPN Sunday night with C.C. Sabathia matching up against Jon Lester for Boston.
Boston got bad news on the pitching front Friday. Staff ace Clay Buchholz continues to experienced soreness in his shoulder and collar bone and will seek a second medical opinion in efforts to get him back on the mound and back on Boston’s rotation. Reliever Andrew Bailey was placed on the disabled list Friday and is likely done for the season, facing possible shoulder surgery to repair labrum damage in his right shoulder. Boston looked to shore up its bullpen depth this week by signing a couple of pitchers to minor league contracts and calling Jose De La Torre back to the parent club in time for Friday night’s meeting with the Yankees. Boston will likely continue to look for pitching depth prior to the July 31st non-waiver trading deadline. Brandon Lyon and Jose Contreras were signed and assigned to Boston’s farm system as potential relievers. Also on Friday the Red Sox began formally began contract extension talks with All-Star second baseman Dustin Pedroia.
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