Yankees avoid being swept
New York — After losing three straight slugfests, the New York Yankees scratched out a crucial win thanks to a stolen base and a wild pitch.
Ichiro Suzuki scored on Brandon Workman's wild pitch with two outs in the ninth inning Sunday, and New York overcame Mariano Rivera's blown save for a 4-3 victory over the Boston Red Sox that prevented a four-game sweep.
"Just really big," Yankees manager Joe Girardi said. "We needed it, because we've had some pretty tough games the last couple days."
Robinson Cano hit a two-run double and the Yankees, fighting for a wild-card berth, finally quieted Boston's booming bats behind starter Hiroki Kuroda. They took a one-run lead into the ninth inning before Rivera, called on to start the eighth, gave up a wind-aided homer to streaking Will Middlebrooks.
Suzuki hit a one-out single off Workman (5-3) in the bottom half, stole second and advanced to third on Vernon Wells' fly to right.
Workman then fired a high pitch that deflected off the mitt of catcher Jarrod Saltalamacchia and caromed away off the backstop, allowing Suzuki to score easily.
"It just kind of got away from me," Workman said. "We were trying to work a little bit up on him."
Boston, which has the best record in the majors and a 7 ½-game cushion in the Amrican League East, had its five-game winning streak snapped. The Red Sox simply outslugged New York in the first three games of the series, giving them a whopping 54 runs, 17 homers and 64 hits during a four-game span that ended Saturday.
Finally on Sunday, some pitching.
After getting big hits from Cano and Mark Reynolds off Boston starter Jon Lester, the Yankees clung to a 3-2 lead through seven innings.
With setup man David Robertson and left-hander Boone Logan sidelined by sore arms, the 43-year-old Rivera (5-2) was brought in to start the eighth for the first time since June 20, 2006, at Philadelphia.
"He's not saving anything for 2014," Girardi said about Rivera, who plans to retire after this season. "He told us that he could give us two, so it wasn't really too harsh."
Baseball's career saves leader got through his first inning with little difficulty, but Middlebrooks led off the ninth and lofted high fly to right field. Suzuki initially broke in on the ball, then scurried back as the wind caught hold of it and dropped it a few rows deep beyond the famous short porch at Yankee Stadium.
"I thought he was going to catch it on the track," Middlebrooks said. "I didn't crush it. I didn't think it was a homer."
But it was - the fourth for Middlebrooks in five days. Rivera, hands on his hips, stood on the mound with a puzzled, exasperated look on his face and appeared to mouth the word "unbelievable."
It was Rivera's seventh blown save in 48 chances this year, and second of the series.
"If it wasn't for the wind, it would have been a popup," Suzuki said through a translator.
Rivera retired the next three batters, though, and the Yankees regrouped to finish a 6-4 homestand that keeps them in the wild-card hunt.
Kuroda tossed six gritty innings and left in line for his first win since Aug. 12. Shawn Kelley retired Dustin Pedroia on a grounder with two runners in scoring position to end the seventh.
• Red Sox center fielder Jacoby Ellsbury has a broken right foot, leaving the AL East leaders without a key offensive catalyst as they try to wrap up the division title.
Red Sox manager John Farrell says the team believes Ellsbury will be back this year, and hopes it will be during the regular season. But there is no specific timetable for his return, and the speedy leadoff hitter will keep wearing a protective boot on his injured foot for five days.
Ellsbury had an MRI on Saturday and returned to Boston for further examination. Then he went to Colorado to get a second opinion from foot specialist Dr. Thomas Clanton at The Steadman Clinic. Farrell says tests confirmed the diagnosis of a compression fracture, which means it's non-displaced.
Ellsbury leads the majors with 52 stolen bases. He is batting .299 and has scored a team-high 89 runs.
• Derek Jeter was out of the Yankees' lineup with soreness in his surgically repaired left ankle.
Girardi said Jeter probably will be held out for a couple of days before further evaluation. Girardi said he is concerned about the lingering injury to Jeter, but there is no thought about shutting him down for the rest of the season at this point.
Jeter has missed most of the season after breaking his left ankle in the opener of the AL championship series last year. Also sidelined by a strained right quadriceps and calf, the 39-year-old captain is batting .190 with a homer and seven RBIs in 17 games.
Girardi said he noticed Jeter wasn't moving around well Saturday, and the 13-time All-Star was pulled for a pinch-runner after an RBI single in the sixth inning. He went to a hospital for a precautionary CT scan on his ankle, and the club said preliminary results were negative.
• Clay Buchholz is ready to rejoin the Boston Red Sox rotation after missing three months with a strained neck.
The right-hander said he threw about 30 pitches in a routine bullpen session Sunday at Yankee Stadium, his final hurdle before starting Tuesday night at Tampa Bay. Struggling left-hander Felix Doubront will be skipped this time through the rotation.
Buchholz will be followed by Ryan Dempster and Jake Peavy against the second-place Rays.
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