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 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, who started the season with the Portland Sea Dogs before promotions to Pawtucket and then to Boston, then fired a high pitch that deflected off the mitt of catcher Jarrod Saltalamacchia, allowing Suzuki to score.
“It just kind of got away from me,” Workman said.
Boston, which began the day with an 8½-game cushion in the AL East, had its five-game winning streak snapped. 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.
Baseball’s career saves leader got through his first inning with little difficulty, but Middlebrooks led off the ninth and lofted a high fly to right that the wind caught hold of 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 — his fourth in five days.
It was Rivera’s seventh blown save in 48 chances this year, and second of the series.
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. Shawn Kelley retired Dustin Pedroia on a grounder with two runners in scoring position to end the seventh.
After allowing 34 runs in the first three games, the Yankees appeared to be in trouble again when Kuroda gave up consecutive doubles to David Ortiz and Mike Carp to start the second. But the right-hander kept the score 1-0 by retiring Daniel Nava on a bases-loaded grounder following a pair of walks.
Lester yielded three runs and 10 hits in eight effective innings.
“I felt good. Little bit of a grinder for me,” Lester said.
New York tied it in the fourth. Alex Rodriguez singled and scored from first base when Reynolds doubled.
Lester ran into some tough luck in the fifth. Chris Stewart blooped a one-out single before Suzuki and Vernon Wells fisted soft singles that landed just out of the reach of shortstop Stephen Drew. Cano’s two-run double put the Yankees ahead 3-1.
Ortiz hit a leadoff double in the sixth and scored on Saltalamacchia’s RBI groundout.
Stewart, hit by a pitch in the third, was lifted for a pinch-hitter in the sixth with a bruised left foot. He was sent for precautionary X-rays.