NEW YORK – Stephen Drew hit a tying single off Mariano Rivera with two outs in the ninth inning, then Shane Victorino lined a go-ahead single in the 10th that sent the Boston Red Sox past the New York Yankees 9-8 in a Thursday night thriller.
Down to their last strike against Rivera, the Red Sox rallied in the opener of a four-game series loaded with playoff implications.
It felt like a playoff matchup, too, especially after New York erased a 7-2 deficit with six runs in the seventh. There were plenty of pitching changes and pinch hitters and a key pinch runner, plus an outburst — Joba Chamberlain (2-1) was ejected by first-base umpire Joe West, who ruled Victorino checked his swing right before the deciding hit.
The Red Sox own the best record in the AL and won for the 10th time in 12 games. The Yankees had their three-game winning stopped in a loss that dented their push for a wild-card spot.
This was the start of an 11-day stretch in which the longtime rivals will face each other seven times.
Jacoby Ellsbury singled with one out in the 10th off Chamberlain and stole second. Victorino held up on a half-swing, West ruled, and lined a single that sent Ellsbury scooting home. Right fielder Ichiro Suzuki made a strong throw but catcher Austin Romine couldn’t handle it.
Craig Breslow (5-2) wound up with the win. He helped himself by picking off Alfonso Soriano at second base with one out in the ninth.
Koji Uehara earned his 18th save, extending his scoreless streak to 26 innings over 23 games.
Rivera entered with an 8-7 lead and got two quick outs. But Mike Napoli singled on a full count and pinch-runner Quintin Berry stole second, continuing to third when Romine’s errant throw bounced away. Drew tied it and handed Rivera his sixth blown save in 47 tries, a day after the all-times saves leader was needed for four outs.
Lyle Overbay’s two-out, two-run single capped a six-run rally in the seventh that put the Yankees ahead 8-7. Down 7-2, New York broke loose against starter Jake Peavy, and relievers Matt Thornton and Junichi Tazawa.
The Yankees also stole a season-high six bases.
New York has been charging hard ever since Ryan Dempster of Boston drilled Alex Rodriguez with a pitch in mid-August. This was the first game since that dustup at Fenway Park.
A day after a 20-4 romp over Detroit in which it tied a team mark with eight home runs, the highest-scoring club in the majors kept up the homer barrage behind Will Middlebrooks and Victorino.
Peavy left with two on and none out, and Brett Gardner hit an RBI single off Thornton to get the Yankees to 7-3. Robinson Cano, who drove in three runs, grounded into a bases-loaded forceout that made it 7-4.
Soriano met Tazawa with an RBI single and Curtis Granderson doubled home a run as New York pulled to 7-6. After Alex Rodriguez struck out, Overbay singled cleanly to right field.
Middlebrooks hit a solo homer into the second deck off Ivan Nova for a 3-2 lead in the fourth. Victorino greeted Preston Claiborne with a leadoff homer that began a three-run fifth for a 6-2 lead.
NOTES: Boston LHP Felix Doubront (10-6, 3.89) starts Friday night vs. LHP Andy Pettitte (10-9, 4.01). … Red Sox RHP Clay Buchholz (neck strain) gave up two runs on four hits and two walks in 3 2/3 innings in a playoff game for Triple-A Pawtucket. It was his final minor league rehab start, and the Red Sox are hoping he can start Tuesday night at Tampa Bay. … Red Sox C Jarrod Saltalamacchia missed his third straight game because of a sore back. Manager John Farrell said he expected Saltalamacchia to be in the lineup sometime this series. … Derek Jeter went 0 for 2 with a walk against Peavy. Jeter is 0 for 10 lifetime vs. Peavy, his worst rut against an active pitcher, STATS said; he was hitless in 14 at-bats against former reliever Jorge Julio.