Sabathia, Yankees Bullpen Strand 16 Red Sox Base Runners

Darnell McDonald throws his bat after striking out with the bases loaded to end the seventh inning as Yankees catcher Francisco Cervelli pumps his fist during Tuesday's game at Fenway. (AP Photo/Winslow Townson)

All good things must come to an end, including CC Sabathia‘s winless streak against the Red Sox this season and Boston’s explosive offense. Sabathia allowed just two earned runs in six innings Tuesday night at Fenway, and the Red Sox left 16 men on base, losing to the Yankees, 5-2. Boston now leads New York by just a half-game in the AL East.

Sabathia Keeps Runs Just Out of Reach

Sabathia lived on the outside corner Tuesday night. Lefty, righty, it didn’t matter: Sabathia pitched just about every batter away. While this generated a lot of base runners – 11 in six innings – it also meant few opportunities for that one big run-scoring hit. Adrian Gonzalez struggled most with this strategy, striking out swinging against Sabathia three times on breaking balls down and away. Gonzalez finished the game 0-5, the only Red Sox starter without a hit.

Sabathia’s one bad pitch was a fourth-inning hanging breaking ball to Carl Crawford (2-4, walk, RBI, run), who deposited it in the right-field seats to make it 3-1 Yankees on his 10th home run of the season. Sabathia also gave up an RBI double to Marco Scutaro (2-5, RBI) before striking out Gonzalez to leave two men on.

The Red Sox had already squandered a bases-loaded situation in the second, and their next scoring opportunity came in the fifth, when the Red Sox had men on second and third with one out thanks to a Jed Lowrie double – the second of his three hits Tuesday – following a David Ortiz single. Robinson Cano snared a Crawford liner to hold the runners for the second out, unfortunately, and Jarrod Saltalamacchia struck out to end the inning.

The Red Sox loaded the bases off Yankees relievers in the seventh, but Boone Logan made Saltalamacchia look foolish, striking him out swinging on three sliders down and in, and Darnell McDonald then chased an outside fastball to end the inning.

Ortiz (2-4, walk) doubled off Mariano Rivera to lead off the ninth, and Rivera retired the next two Red Sox before hitting Saltalamacchia. Yankees manager Joe Girardi came out to argue Saltalamacchia was hit while swinging and was immediately ejected. Rivera then retired pinch-hitter Josh Reddick on a fly out to earn his 35th save of the season. The Red Sox went 2-for-13 with runners in scoring position Tuesday.

Sabathia earned his 18th win of the season and 10th road win, pitching seven innings of two-run baseball. He gave up 10 hits, hit a batter, walked two but struck out 10.

Lackey Can’t Continue Winning Ways

John Lackey had won his first two starts against the Yankees this season, including beating Sabathia on Aug. 6 at Fenway. This time, however, Lackey couldn’t repeat his success.

Walks proved costly to Lackey Tuesday: a one-out walk to Curtis Granderson in the second turned into the Yankees’ first run when third baseman Eric Chavez singled up the middle with two men on. Another walk to Granderson, this time leading off the fourth, turned into the Yankees’ second run when Cano doubled off the Green Monster. Chavez then singled up the middle to drive in Cano and make it 3-0 Yankees.

Lackey grew progressively less effective as the game went into later innings. Of Lackey’s 12 non-outs (seven hits, four walks and hit batter) in the seven innings he pitched, nine came after the third. Of the three strikeouts Lackey recorded, two came in the first two innings, and the third came with the bases empty and two outs in the top of the seventh. His only 1-2-3 innings were the first and third. After that, the Yankees became increasingly selective with Lackey, fouling off many two-strike pitches until they either hit or walked.

The Yankees extended their lead to 4-2 in the fifth on catcher Francisco Cervelli‘s third career home run, this time into the Green Monster seats. Upon reaching home, Cervelli clapped rather emphatically, perhaps leading to Lackey beaning him to start the seventh. Cervelli barked at Lackey following the pitch, forcing Saltalamacchia to stand in front of him. Both benches emptied but no punches were thrown, although Yankees pitching coach Larry Rothschild was ejected for arguing. Whether intentional or not, the hit batter proved costly, with Cervelli scoring from third on a double play by Derek Jeter.

Lackey took his 10th loss of the season, though his four earned runs (Cervelli’s second run was unearned due to his taking second on a passed ball) still lowered his ERA slightly to 5.94.

Alfredo Aceves pitched a perfect ninth on four pitches.