BOSTON -- Finally, a Yankees-Red Sox game that felt like a Yankees-Red Sox game, and a Fenway Park game that actually felt as if it were played in, well, Fenway Park.
Evaporating leads, wall-bangers, monster shots and of course, a nearly four-hour game made this one seem vintage. It came down to an epic nine-pitch showdown between David Robertson and Dustin Pedroia, who fouled off four pitches, the last nearly a game-tying home run, before grounding out to end the game.
And the final score, 8-7 Yankees, made it feel as if this team might be able to stick close enough to the AL East and wild-card races for Michael Pineda and maybe even Masahiro Tanaka to ride in to the rescue for the final month of the season.
In any event, a fun, if long, game concludes this six-game road trip with a disappointing 3-3 record, since all six came against last-place teams. But at least it sends the Yankees home to face the Detroit Tigers and their fearsome starting staff riding the crest of a two-game winning streak.
Bambino Brett: Brett Gardner's solo home run off Craig Breslow, his 15th of the season -- you read that right -- snapped a 7-7 tie in the sixth inning, capping a four-run Yankees comeback that began in the fifth. Gardner had three RBIs in the game, two of them on a second-inning double off Clay Buchholz. And he is now breathing down the neck of Mark Teixeira, who leads the team with 19 dingers.
Drew Yankee: Stephen Drew drove in four of the Yankees' seven runs, the first with a groundout in the second inning, another with a double in the fourth and two more with a single in the fifth. In his first three games against his former team, Drew had two doubles and knocked in five runs.
Mr. Rogers' Neighborhood: New Yankee Esmil Rogers made his first appearance, being summoned to start the bottom of the fifth of a 7-7 game, and gave the Yankees three scoreless innings, including strikeouts of Mike Napoli and Yoenis Cespedes. Strong debut outing for a waiver claim who could turn out to be a find.
Who's your Papi?: Just when it appeared the Yankees had settled down the Red Sox batters, David Ortiz hit one out to the deepest part of the ballpark, the triangle in center field, 420 feet from home plate, with a runner on to give the Red Sox a 7-4 lead in the bottom of the fourth. It was an especially damaging blow because the Yankees had pulled to within one run the previous half-inning.
Cameo appearance: David Phelps made his shortest appearance of the season as starter, lasting just two innings and allowing five earned runs. Five of the first six Red Sox hit lasers off him, and he walked the one who didn't, in a three-run first inning. After he allowed two more runs in the second, Joe Girardi yanked him for Chase Whitley to start the third. A terrible performance on a night the Yankees needed their starter to come up big, made worse by the announcement in the sixth inning that Phelps was suffering from "right elbow inflammation" and would be evaluated by team doctors when the Yankees return to New York.
Monster man: Phelps almost immediately gave the lead back to the Red Sox in the bottom of the second, teeing up an 88 mph fastball for Dustin Pedroia to hit into the Green Monster seats with a runner on to give Boston a 5-3 edge. It was just Pedroia's fifth HR of the season and first at Fenway in 160 at-bats.
Walk in the park: Much like Allen Webster on Saturday night, Clay Buchholz couldn't find home plate with a GPS in the second inning, walking three Yankees, two of whom came around to score as the Yankees neutralized Boston's 3-0 first-inning lead. The big hit was a two-run double by Gardner, but oh, those free baserunners!
Snail's pace: The first inning took a whopping 34 minutes, the second a slightly snappier 29 minutes, and the pitchers combined to throw 100 pitches to get the first 12 outs, which put us on pace for 4 1/2-hour game. Thankfully, things sped up a little after that and we finished up in a relatively brisk 3:42.
Next: Brief overnight flight home, followed by the beginning of a seven-game homestand that starts with four games against the Detroit Tigers and three straight AL Cy Young Award winners. Monday night, it's Brandon McCarthy (3-0, 2.55 as a Yankee) facing RHP Max Scherzer (13-3, 3.27); Tuesday, Hiroki Kuroda (7-7, 3.98) faces newly acquired LHP David Price (11-8, 3.11 with Tampa Bay); and Wednesday, it's Chris Capuano (0-1, 4.38 as a Yankee) against RHP Justin Verlander (10-9, 4.66), all games at 7:05 p.m. The series concludes with Thursday's matinee, Shane Greene (2-1, 3.68) vs. RHP Rick Porcello (13-5, 3.18), first pitch at 1:05 p.m.