BOSTON (AP) - Boston Red Sox rookie Eduardo Rodriguez didn’t waste any time worrying about whether he was pitching to save his team’s season.
He was facing the New York Yankees for the first time, and that was plenty.
“I don’t know how big it was for them, but for me it was pretty big,” the 22-year-old left-hander said after helping Boston beat New York 5-3 on Saturday night to cut the team’s deficit in the AL East to 5 1/2 games. “It was the first time I faced the Yankees. (It was good to) get a game like that and get a win.”
Hanley Ramirez hit a two-run homer, Mookie Betts had a pair of extra-base hits and David Ortiz also had two hits to help the Red Sox rebound a day after losing the series opener and top pitcher Clay Buchholz in the same game.
That dropped Boston to 6 1/2 games behind the Yankees in the AL East. And instead of hoping for a sweep that would propel them into the playoff chase, they were looking at dropping further back in the division and perhaps out of the race entirely.
“Everyone in that dugout knows full well where we are,” Red Sox manager John Farrell said, acknowledging that many of the team’s problems have been “self-inflicted.” ”Tonight was a big win for us, with a chance to win the series tomorrow.”
The Yankees had beaten Boston five straight times, including a 5-1 win Friday. But the Red Sox got 6 1-3 solid innings from Rodriguez (5-2) to win for the 10th time in 13 games and cut the 10-game deficit they faced on June 20 nearly in half.
Rodriguez allowed five hits and a walk while striking out two, leaving with a 3-2 lead in the seventh. He allowed solo homers to Alex Rodriguez and Jacoby Ellsbury - just the third time in nine career starts that he has given up two runs or more.
“He didn’t fear the strike zone after getting a couple of balls squared up,” Farrell said.
Koji Uehara pitched the ninth for his 22nd save, ending it by getting Brian McCann on a 400-foot fly ball to center with a man on base.
Yankees manager Joe Girardi thought it looked good off the bat.
“Then I saw it drift toward center,” he said. “It gets deep out there.”
Alex Rodriguez homered in the first inning for the second straight game, and Ellsbury had three hits.
Boston tied it 1-1 in the third, then Ortiz singled to lead off the fourth and Ramirez homered to make it 3-1. Ellsbury homered into the Boston bullpen to cut the lead to 3-2.
The Red Sox added two in the seventh, chasing Ivan Nova, when Betts hit an RBI triple and then scored on Xander Bogaerts’ infield single.
Nova (1-3) allowed four runs on eight hits, striking out three in 6 2-3 innings.
Alex Rodriguez made it 1-0 with his 672nd career homer, hitting it over the Green Monster, where it was grabbed by a fan in a “Free (Tom) Brady” T-shirt. The Yankees designated hitter was booed by the crowd, but he found a fan in a Yankees jersey in the front row to hand his batting gloves to on the way to the dugout.
Yankees prospect Rob Refsnyder was hitless in three at-bats, batting ninth in his major-league debut. Refsnyder, who was called up from Triple-A, hit into a double play in the third and was robbed of his first hit in the sixth when Boston RF Alejandro De Aza came in to make a diving catch of his sinking liner. He popped to first in the eighth.
“I wasn’t nervous at all,” he joked. “It was quite an experience, growing up a sports fan in a sports family. It was special. I would have liked to get a hit and help the team win. It’s something I’ll remember.”
Yankees: Nathan Eovaldi (8-2) pitches for the Yankees in the series finale.
Red Sox: Wade Miley (8-7) will try to help Boston win its fifth straight series.
Yankees: The Yankees moved OF Mason Williams from the 15-day to the 60-day disabled list to make room for Rob Refsnyder on the 40-man roster.
Red Sox: Buchholz was placed on the 15-day disabled list with a strained right elbow a day after leaving his start in the fourth inning. To take his place, the club selected LHP Brian Johnson from Triple-A Pawtucket.
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