NEW YORK (AP)—Brett Gardner’s jersey was covered with dirt. So was the back of each pinstriped pants leg and the side of each dark blue sock.
Seven days into his major league career, the 24-year-old had singled home the winning run in the 10th inning. To beat the Boston Red Sox. On national television.
“That’s awesome. Something I’ll remember for the rest of my life,” he said Sunday night after the Yankees’ 5-4 victory, which gained New York a four-game split. “It’s definitely an unbelievable experience.”
Alex Rodriguez hit his 536th homer, tying Yankees Hall of Famer Mickey Mantle for 13th on the career list with a second-inning drive against Tim Wakefield. Robinson Cano had a two-run triple in the seventh off Javier Lopez that tied it 4-4.
Given the chance to start because of the shoulder injury that landed Johnny Damon on the disabled list for the first time, Gardner was just 1-for-18 before singling in the sixth on the first pitch after manager Joe Girardi’s ejection. He scored on Jeter’s single.
Against Papelbon, Gardner fouled off a pair of 0-2 pitches, took two balls and fouled off another pitch. He then sent a soft grounder up the middle on a splitter. Shortstop Alex Cora dived, but the ball kicked off his glove and into the outfield as Cano scored.
“I was talking to the ball. I was trying to talk it up the middle,” Gardner said. “As soon as I saw him get some glove on it, I was like, `Oh, no. He’s going to knock it down.’ But it squirted away.”
New York remained a season-high nine games behind the first-place Rays before a two-game series at Tampa starting Tuesday. The Red Sox went 3-7 on a trip that included six one-run losses and dropped five games back of the Rays.
“Seems like that’s what’s going to happen if you’re going to beat me this year: broken bat or find-your-way-through-the-infield somehow,” Papelbon said. “I’ve got to be able to go out and get the first guy.”
Rivera (3-3) had an eventful six-pitch ninth inning, then pitched a perfect 10th. Sean Casey hit a soft single to short center on Rivera’s first pitch of the night, Coco Crisp sacrificed on the next and pinch-hitter Jason Varitek shattered his bat on the third, a comebacker that moved the runner to third base. Manny Ramirez then pinch-hit, and took three straight called strikes.
Bench coach Rob Thomson had gone to the mound before Ramirez batted, asking if the closer wanted to walk him.
“No reason to do that,” Rivera said. “You just go at him. You have to trust what you have.”
Ramirez, in a 2-for-19 slide, was given the night off with Joba Chamberlain starting. Boston manager Terry Francona said Ramirez has had trouble catching up with fastballs.
“Manny has been very un-Mannylike,” Girardi said.
Girardi was ejected by plate umpire Laz Diaz for arguing a called strike to Gardner. New York has won both times the manager was tossed this year.
“I told the guys just to let me know when they want me to go,” Girardi said, jokingly. “It seems to work pretty well. Just give me a sign.”
Boston won’t return to Yankee Stadium until its final regular-season series there, from Aug. 26-28. But many of the Red Sox will be back in a week. Seven Red Sox players were picked for the All-Star game, and Boston’s Terry Francona will manage the AL All-Stars on July 15.
Chamberlain, 1-0 with six no-decisions since joining the rotation on June 3, allowed three runs and four hits in six innings with five strikeouts and four walks. He had a one-hit shutout going into the fifth, but threw 36 pitches in the inning. One run scored on a wild pitch, with Kevin Youkilis sliding into the pitcher at the plate, and first-time All-Star Dustin Pedroia fought off an inside pitch and slapped it into right-center for a two-run single and 3-1 lead.
Youkilis shot a look at Chamberlain after pitch behind his thigh in sixth. Chamberlain was suspended for two games last August for throwing consecutive 98-99 mph pitches over Youkilis’ head.
“He got two hits on two balls away, so we were going to try to, you know, throw it under his bat and try to run it under his hands. And it got away,” Chamberlain said. “There was nothing behind it. I’m trying to get him out. He’d been on base two times. I don’t want him to be on base again.”
Youkilis seemed to think there was intent.
“What I want to say, I’m not going to say,” was his reaction.
Youkilis became Boston’s fifth straight runner to be caught stealing when he was thrown out by C Jose Molina in the second. … Gardner was the first Yankees player with a game-ending hit in his sixth game or earlier since Alfonso Soriano hit an 11th-inning solo homer to beat Tampa Bay in a 5-4, 11-inning win on Sept. 24, 1999, according to the Elias Sports Bureau. It was Soriano’s sixth game.