“Both teams were remarkable,” Rodriguez said. “It was a heavyweight fight, and we were fortunate to have the last hit.”
Once the game entered the 15th it became the longest scoreless matchup between the longtime rivals. Rodriguez’s two-out homer came at 12:42 a.m., off Boston’s eighth pitcher, Junichi Tazawa(notes), who was making his major league debut.
A day after the Yankees bashed Boston and John Smoltz(notes) 13-6 in a game that ended testily, New York’s A.J. Burnett(notes) and Josh Beckett(notes) of the Red Sox set the tone—then both remained in the dugout for remainder of the 5-hour, 33-minute game with Burnett administering one of his whipped-cream pies to Rodriguez.
Burnett allowed a leadoff single and five relievers finished the four-hitter in the first Boston-New York game to go into extra innings scoreless since 1976.
“This would’ve been a very hard game to lose,” Yankees manager Joe Girardi said. “Nobody left. It just shows the importance of the game.”
Derek Jeter(notes) singled to lead off the 15th against Tazawa (0-1), who was signed out of a Japanese industrial league and called up Friday after the Red Sox cut Smoltz. After two outs, Rodriguez lined a shot into the bullpen in left-center giving New York its 10th walkoff win of the season.
It was Rodriguez’s first homer since July 19, his season worst homerless drought of 72 at-bats. He was 1 for 6 before connecting.
“As far as making my major league debut, I’m very happy. I was honored to be in such an important situation,” Tazawa said through a translator. “I wish I could have done a little better.”
The Yankees’ fifth straight win touched off a raucous celebration on the field and in the stands as many of the 48,262 fans at the new ballpark remained as a tense game breezed past midnight.
The Red Sox, who have lost four in a row, gave the crowd a scare in the 14th when Victor Martinez(notes) hit a high-arcing drive that Eric Hinske(notes) caught just in front of the wall in right field, eliciting a collective sigh from the crowd. One batter later, Kevin Youkilis(notes) lined a single to left for the first hit since the 10th inning, touching off a modest “Let’s Go Red Sox!” chant.
“It was a tough night offensively,” Boston manager Terry Francona said. “It was a tough night for them, too.”
Jeter came through after going hitless in his first six at-bats and failing in three opportunities with runners on third—twice against Beckett. Boston’s Dustin Pedroia(notes) lazily flied out three times with runners on base and Martinez was 0 for 6. The teams combined to go 0 for 19 with runners in scoring position.
“It was a really weird night,” Pedroia said. “It’s not like we’re not trying.”
Former Florida Marlins teammates Burnett and Beckett matched zeros, each refusing to bend to All-Star lineups.
On his third try against Boston—matching up against Beckett each time— since signing an $82.5 million, five-year free-agent deal, Burnett finally proved his value against the Yankees’ chief rivals. He gave up 11 runs in his first two starts against them. On Friday, Burnett walked six but struck out six 7 2-3 innings. Beckett gave up four hits and struck out seven in seven innings.
Beckett has been a stabilizing ace in a Boston rotation missing Daisuke Matsuzaka(notes) and Tim Wakefield(notes) to injuries and is now without Smoltz, who was designated for assignment earlier Friday. He walked two and threw 115 pitches, and played cheerleader from the top step of the dugout right to the end.
NOTES: The Red Sox also designated LHP Billy Traber(notes) for assignment and claimed infielder Chris Woodward(notes) off waivers from Seattle. … Tawaza bowed to Hideki Matsui(notes) of the Yankees when he saw his idol during batting practice.