BOSTON -- And the role of spoiler officially begins.
The Boston Red Sox defeated the New York Yankees, 4-3, to snap a four-game losing skid Tuesday night at Fenway Park. Since the Baltimore Orioles defeated the Tampa Bay Rays, 9-2, the Yankees fell into a tie with the Orioles for the top spot in the AL East.
While the game doesn’t matter too much for the Red Sox as far as the standings, they played well and used some ninth-inning heroics to post the victory. Jacoby Ellsbury provided a walk-off RBI single with one out, scoring Pedro Ciriaco from second base. It was the club’s third walk-off win this season.
Ciriaco was a machine both offensively and defensively. At the plate, he went 3-for-4 with a double, bunt base hit, a single and two runs scored.
Red Sox starter Jon Lester lasted only 5 1/3 innings and allowed three runs on five hits with seven walks and five strikeouts. He tossed 102 pitches (just 55 for strikes). The seven walks were a career high. His previous mark was five walks, which he’s done nine times in his career.
The five strikeouts moved Lester past Bruce Hurst for the most strikeouts all-time by a Red Sox left-hander with 1,044.
The Yankees got to him early, scoring a run in the top of the first. Lester issued three walks in the frame. He settled down a bit in the second, retiring three of the four batters he faced, but he issued back-to-back walks to lead off the top of the third, with Lester throwing up his arms in disgust with home-plate umpire Chad Fairchild.
Red Sox manger Bobby Valentine then made a visit to the mound seemingly as much to talk to Fairchild as Lester. After the manager returned to the dugout, Lester recorded back-to-back strikeouts and finished the inning with a ground out to first.
Lester, who recorded the out at first to end the inning, then walked down the baseline to chat with Fairchild.
New York still had a 1-0 lead when Ellsbury and Dustin Pedroia each provided a RBI in the bottom of the third to give Boston a 2-1 advantage.
In the top of the sixth, the Yankees’ Derek Jeter ended Lester’s night with a two-run bloop double to give New York a 3-2 lead. In the bottom of the inning, Pedroia hit a solo home run to tie it at 3-3. It was his 15th homer of the season.
The Sox wasted a golden opportunity in the seventh when they loaded the bases, but failed to score.
Ellsbury’s walk-off hit in the bottom of the ninth was his first of the season and third of his career.
WEB GEM: Red Sox first baseman James Loney turned in the defensive play of the game in the top of the first. The Yankees already had a 1-0 lead and the bases were loaded with two outs when New York’s Curtis Granderson hit a high pop-up in foul territory near the Red Sox’s on-deck circle. Boston catcher Ryan Lavarnway was under it, but the ball began to fade back a bit as Loney came charging in and made the catch to end the threat.
SOX RECOGNIZE 9/11: In a touching pregame ceremony, the Red Sox organization honored the families and victims of 9/11. Both teams lined up on their respective baselines, while some local families that were directly affected by the tragedy of Sept. 11, 2001, were recognized on the field and on the video board.
UP NEXT: The Red Sox send right-hander Aaron Cook (3-9, 5.17 ERA) to the mound on Wednesday. He’ll face Yankees right-hander David Phelps (3-4, 3.55). Cook is 0-2 with a 10.24 ERA in two career starts against the Yankees. This will be his first appearance against New York at Fenway Park.
DOWN ON THE FARM: Boston’s Triple-A affiliate, the Pawtucket Red Sox defeated the Charlotte Knights 7-2 in Game 1 of the best-of-five Governors’ Cup finals Tuesday night at McCoy Stadium in Pawtucket, R.I. Game 2 is Wednesday night at 7 p.m. at McCoy.