Rapid reaction: Yankees 4, Red Sox 2

September, 1, 2011

BOSTON -- First, a disclaimer: Here at ESPN Boston, the tag "Rapid Reaction" is a standing headline, and is not intended in any way to serve as an ironic commentary on the numbingly slow pace of play of Thursday night's game between the Red Sox and Yankees. We're not that smart; yes, they are that slow.

That said, we'll keep it short. Lord knows you've spent long enough watching, listening or checking your tweets while these ancient rivals plodded through the rubber game of a series that feels like it started in the Pleistocene Age. Tuesday night's game went 3 hours, 59 minutes, Boston's longest nine-inning game of the season -- until Thursday night, which clocked in at 4 hours, 21 minutes.

That's fine if you're John W. Henry, Tom Werner and Larry Lucchino, and you have Kevin Millar sitting with you to entertain you while you're sitting through the, um, dead spots. Good luck to the rest of you who have work or school in the morning.

And yet, for all of you who persevered, there was high drama at night's end: bases loaded, Adrian Gonzalez at the plate, two out in the ninth, Yankees icon Mariano Rivera on the mound.

The final act, however, was satisfying only to the Yankees, as Gonzalez was called out on a checked-swing third strike.

What it means: The Yankees won their first series in five tries this season against the Sox, who lead the overall series, 11 games to four. The Bombers leave town a half-game behind in the American League East with the Sox having 26 games left, the Yanks 27. They meet three more times, in the Bronx, in the next-to-last series of the season.

Where it went wrong for the Sox: The seventh inning, when Andruw Jones wrangled a 14-pitch walk out of Alfredo Aceves, who then brushed the jersey of Yankees rookie Jesus Montero to put two on with one out. Terry Francona went to Daniel Bard earlier than he typically likes, and it didn't work out. Bard got two quick strikes on Russell Martin, but the Yankees catcher battled back to work the count full, then drove a gapper to right-center that scored two runs. Martin took third on the throw and scored on Eric Chavez's single through a drawn-in infield.

Long night for Jon Lester: Make that a long first inning. The left-hander threw 43 pitches in the first, setting the tone for a night of long at-bats, deep counts, pitcher-catcher conferences, visits from the dugout. Lester escaped with a yield of just one run, but he was gone after five, having thrown 115 pitches.

Reprieve for A.J.: Yankees starter A.J. Burnett, trying to preserve his spot in the rotation, pitched well enough to get another chance, as the Sox got to him for just two runs, both coming on Dustin Pedroia's two-run home run in the fourth.

Pedey power: Pedroia's home run was his 18th of the season, a career high.

Mo closes the deal: Rivera walked the leadoff man in the ninth, Jed Lowrie, then walked Jacoby Ellsbury with two outs on a full count to put the tying runs on base. Marco Scutaro then singled to load the bases before Rivera whiffed Gonzalez.

Pained pinstriper: Yankees first baseman Mark Teixeira has a bruised right knee and is listed as day-to-day after being hit by a pitch by Alfredo Aceves.

First impressions: Felix Doubront, called up from Pawtucket earlier in the day, walked the first man he faced, Brett Gardner, then picked him off first and struck out the next two batters in a scoreless eighth.

Gordon Edes

ESPN Staff Writer



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