Napoli delivers in ninth
New York - Mike Napoli stung Masahiro Tanaka by hitting a solo home run with two outs in the ninth inning, lifting Jon Lester and the Boston Red Sox over the New York Yankees 2-1 Saturday night.
Napoli had struck out in his previous two at-bats before lining an opposite-field drive into the first row of the seats in right. Napoli, who also homered off Tanaka at Fenway Park in late April, raised his right arm as he rounded first base.
The Red Sox won for just the third time in nine games. The victory made the defending World Series champions 37-44 at the midpoint of the season - it's the first time since 1997 that Boston has been under .500 at the halfway mark.
Lester (9-7) held the Yankees hitless until the sixth. He gave up an unearned run and five hits in eight innings, striking out six and walking two.
Koji Uehara pitched a perfect ninth for his 17th save in 18 chances.
Tanaka (11-3) took the hard-luck loss. The top winner in the majors and AL ERA leader allowed seven hits in a complete game, striking out eight and walking one.
The matchup between Lester and Tanaka shaped up as a pitchers' duel, and it certainly was. Lester improved to 13-6 lifetime against the Yankees, including a loss to Tanaka in Boston on April.
Lester and Uehara came through for a Red Sox team that has scored three runs or less in 12 of its last 14 games.
An odd sequence ended the Yankees eighth. Jacoby Ellsbury tried to steal second with two outs and the fans cheered when catcher David Ross' throw skipped into center field. As Ellsbury headed toward third, however, the crowd began to realize strike three had already been called on Mark Teixeira.
Earlier in the inning, second baseman Dustin Pedroia made a nifty pickup and glove flip to start a double play on Derek Jeter.
Ross homered in the Boston third, launching a drive far over the left-field fence. Tanaka muttered to himself after the ball cleared the wall.
Tanaka has demonstrated a deft touch at escaping jams, and did it again the next inning after Pedroia led off with a single and David Ortiz followed with a double.
Tanaka struck out Napoli and Stephen Drew, then got Xander Bogaerts on a grounder to keep it at 1-all. Tanaka clapped his hand into his glove, jogged off the mound and fist-bumped with Jeter.
Lester, who threw a no-hitter against Kansas City in 2008, held the Yankees hitless until Brett Gardner bounced a leadoff single up the middle in the sixth.
• The Red Sox promoted highly touted prospect Mookie Betts from the minors, hoping he might be able to boost a lineup that's had trouble scoring runs all season. Boston selected the contract of the 21-year-old outfielder from Pawtucket and sent promising right-hander Rubby De La Rosa to their top farm club. Betts wasn't in the lineup against Tanaka on Saturday night, but Red Sox manager John Farrell said he anticipated Betts would start and make his major league debut tonight at Yankee Stadium.
Farrell said Betts would play in center field and right field. Betts was hitting a combined .345 at Triple-A and Double-A this season with eight home runs and 29 steals. He scored 70 runs and had 48 RBI in 77 games, and had been picked to play in the All-Star Futures Game next month in Minnesota. Betts had a .437 on-base percentage and a .520 slugging average.
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