BOSTON – The big hits just seem to keep on coming for the streaking Boston Red Sox.
Jarrod Saltalamacchia hit a tiebreaking grand slam in the seventh inning, Koji Uehara closed with another perfect inning and the Red Sox beat the New York Yankees 8-4 Friday night.
Returning to Fenway Park after winning 5 of 7 games on the road against the Yankees and Tampa Bay — both now lagging far back in the AL East — Boston rebounded after blowing an early 4-0 lead.
Boston now leads the second-place Rays by 8½ games.
“That’s what is making this season fun,” Red Sox slugger David Ortiz said. “You’re not talking about a team that depends on one guy. I know that everybody has to be careful with myself, but there are plenty of guys.”
Ortiz and Stephen Drew each doubled twice as the Red Sox won for the 15th time in 19 games. Saltalamacchia also doubled and scored twice.
Shane Victorino opened the seventh with a single off Hiroki Kuroda. Reliever Cesar Cabral hit Ortiz with a pinch and Preston Claiborne walked pinch-hitter Jonny Gomes.
After Daniel Nava struck out, Saltalamacchia hit his third career slam, connecting off Claiborne for a drive over Boston’s bullpen.
“I was just trying to get a good pitch to hit with a runner on third,” he said. “Vic, at third, a fast guy, I knew if I’d get it into the air, he’ll be able to score. I saw how he worked Nava before me.”
Uehara breezed through the ninth. He’s retired 37 straight batters, the longest streak by a reliever since Bobby Jenks of the White Sox set down 41 in a row in 2007.
Robinson Cano went 4 for 4 with three doubles and two RBI for New York, which fell to two games behind Tampa Bay for the final AL wild-card spot after the Rays beat Minnesota, 3-0.
“It’s unfortunate,” Yankees Manager Joe Girardi said. “We gave them some free baserunners and then you get the big hit by Saltalamacchia, but I love the way our guys battled back.”
Brendan Ryan, just acquired from Seattle, hit his first homer with the Yankees.
Brandon Workman (6-3) got the win, retiring one batter.
Boston scored four times in the first off Kuroda (11-11) but the Yankees came back to tie it.
Trailing 4-2 in the seventh, the Yankees chased starter John Lackey and tied it on Cano’s bases-loaded, two-run double off reliever Craig Breslow. New York had runners on second and third, but Workman got Alfonso Soriano on a bouncer to third.
The Red Sox took a quick 4-0 lead. Dustin Pedroia singled, Ortiz doubled and Mike Carp had an RBI grounder.
Nava singled home a run and Drew hit a two-run double off the Green Monster, just inside the foul line.
With pitchers warming in the bullpen behind him, Kuroda looked as if he was on the verge of being pulled when Boston threatened in the second and third. The 38-year-old right-hander responded by escaping a bases-loaded, one-out jam in the second and held the Red Sox scoreless after a leadoff double the next inning.
Kuroda allowed five runs, eight hits, walked two and fanned two in six-plus innings. He’s 0-4 with a 6.69 ERA in his last six starts.
Lackey gave up four runs on seven hits in 6 1/3 innings.