BOSTON — Jacoby Ellsbury wasted little time reminding the Boston Red Sox how he used to help them win.
He did it Tuesday night for the New York Yankees and Masahiro Tanaka.
The boos had barely subsided when Ellsbury tripled leading off the game, his first as an opponent at Fenway Park. Then in the bottom of the first he stole a hit from Boston leadoff hitter Grady Sizemore with a sliding catch in left-center field as his cap flew off.
New York won 9-3 and Ellsbury, who spent seven seasons with the Red Sox before signing a $153 million, seven-year contract with the Yankees, was a major contributor.
“You want to go out there and put on a good performance,” said Ellsbury, who received a mixed reception. “It was nice to get a triple right off the bat, just allow us to score right from the get-go.”
The two-run double in the fifth also was pretty satisfying. It gave the Yankees a 7-2 lead one inning after David Ortiz and Mike Napoli hit back-to-back homers for the Red Sox.
That was a “big hit,” New York Manager Joe Girardi said. “They had climbed a little bit closer to get it to 4-2. I thought he played extremely well.”
Tanaka (3-0) allowed two runs on seven hits in 71/3 innings with seven strikeouts and no walks. His 35 strikeouts in his first four major league starts set a team record and he’s walked just two batters in 291/3 innings. But this was his first game at Fenway.
“I understand it’s a stadium rich in tradition,” Tanaka said through a translator. “Going up on the mound, I did feel that.”
Jon Lester (2-3) struggled after four outstanding outings, allowing seven runs in 42/3 innings.
“They put some good swings on him,” Boston Manager John Farrell said. “Then when they mis-hit some balls, they found some holes.”
There were more boos than cheers for Ellsbury from the crowd that contained a sizeable amount of Yankees fans when he stepped in as the first batter.
With an 0-2 count, he drove the ball about five feet from the top of the center-field wall. It was ruled a triple after a spectator reached out and interfered with it. Ellsbury scored on a single by Derek Jeter, starting the Yankees toward their seventh win in nine games.
Jeter took second on a passed ball and took third when catcher A.J. Pierzynski threw into center field. Carlos Beltran singled in Jeter, making it 2-0 before an out was recorded.
After the bottom of the first, a video tribute of Ellsbury’s highlights was shown on the center-field screen. He smiled and waved from the visiting dugout.
“For them to just take a moment to have some cheers, it was nice,” said Ellsbury, a big part of Boston’s World Series title last year.
The Yankees added two runs in the third on consecutive doubles by Alfonso Soriano, Mark Teixeira and Brian McCann.
The Red Sox cut the lead in half on the homers by Ortiz, his fourth of the season, and Napoli, his fifth, ending Tanaka’s scoreless streak at 161/3 innings.
Lester nearly escaped a jam in the fifth before an error by first baseman Napoli led to four unearned runs and an 8-2 Yankees lead.
“We’ve given some extra outs,” Farrell said. “At this level, when you do that, you’re asking for trouble.”