NEW YORK – Ichiro Suzuki homered twice and Hiroki Kuroda pitched eight innings of four-hit ball to lead the New York Yankees past Josh Beckett and the Boston Red Sox 4-1 on Sunday night.
Derek Jeter had three hits and scored twice for the Yankees, who took two of three from Boston despite playing the entire series without slugger Mark Teixeira. The AL East leaders won for the ninth time in 12 games, ending a two-year streak of futility against Beckett (5-11).
The right-hander was 5-0 in his previous seven starts against the Yankees since losing to them on Aug. 8, 2010. He kept his team in the game this time, but dropped to 0-4 in his last six outings. He is 1-7 in 13 starts since May 20 and has served up seven homers in his past three appearances covering 16 1/3 innings.
While Beckett has struggled when the Red Sox needed him, Kuroda (12-8) has provided a major boost to the Yankees with ace CC Sabathia and veteran Andy Pettitte on the disabled list. The 37-year-old right-hander, coming off a two-hit shutout against Texas, struck out four and walked none while reaching 100 pitches for the 11th straight start.
His only blemish was Adrian Gonzalez’s homer in the seventh. Rafael Soriano worked a one-hit ninth for his 31st save in 33 tries.
Boston (59-63) has lost eight of 12 and left New York trailing the Yankees by 13 games.
Never known for his power, the 38-year-old Suzuki homered into the second deck in right with two outs in the fourth. Two innings later, he lined a shot into the lower seats for his seventh career multihomer game and second this season. He also hit two with Seattle on June 2 at the Chicago White Sox.
The 10-time All-Star popped out of the dugout for a curtain call, showing more than a few flecks of gray in his closely cropped hair. He has seven home runs this year, three for New York after he was acquired from the Mariners in a July 23 trade.
When he returned to his position in right field, fans in the sellout crowd of 48,620 chanted “Ichiro! Ichiro!”
Suzuki added an infield single in the eighth.
The Yankees, who play 16 of their next 22 games on the road, have outhomered Boston 31-11 while going 8-4 against their longtime rivals.
Gonzalez hit his 15th home run of the season and second in two days with one out in the seventh, snapping Kuroda’s scoreless streak at 16 2/3 innings.
Jeter doubled over the head of center fielder Jacoby Ellsbury leading off the first. With two outs, Curtis Granderson doubled to put New York ahead.
Granderson entered the series in a 4-for-36 funk but homered in each of the first two games. He batted cleanup Sunday for the second time in his career.
Jeter clocked a ground-rule double to center in the third. He was on the front end of a double steal with Nick Swisher and scored on Beckett’s wild pitch.
NOTES: Teixeira missed his third straight game because of a sore left wrist but said it’s improving, and he intends to try to play Monday night in Chicago. “We’ll have to see when he goes through some drills how he feels,” Manager Joe Girardi said. “I think it’s a possibility he could have to deal with this the rest of the year, and I think it’s a possibility it could be gone, too.” Swisher started at first base. … Girardi said the Yankees hope to get left-hander Pedro Feliciano (rotator cuff surgery) back in September. … Robinson Cano singled in the fifth to snap skids of 0 for 16 and 1 for 25. … Red Sox outfielder Cody Ross was rested after striking out in all four plate appearances Saturday. … Beckett has a strikeout in each of his 300 major league games, the second-longest streak to begin a career since 1900 behind Dwight Gooden (349).