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Ciriaco's triple leads Red Sox past Yankees, 8-6

The SportsXchange

NEW YORK -- Will Middlebrooks emerged from the shower, saw the reporters spilling out of Pedro Ciriaco's locker into his, turned around and headed back to an off-limits area of the visitor's clubhouse at Yankee Stadium.

"Pedro's a superstar," Middlebrooks said with a grin.

With just 98 big-league at-bats under his belt, Ciriaco isn't quite a superstar. But the rookie did it all Saturday to help the Boston Red Sox earn a dramatic and much-needed victory.

Ciriaco's ninth-inning triple just beyond the reach of Curtis Granderson scored Jacoby Ellsbury with the winning run as the Boston Red Sox edged the New York Yankees 8-6 in front of 49,573 fans Saturday at Yankee Stadium.

The Red Sox blew a five-run lead and appeared as if they might be headed for a disastrous defeat when Mark Teixeira tied the game for the Yankees in the eighth with a mammoth two-run, two-out homer off Vicente Padilla. But Ellsbury walked against Rafael Soriano (2-1) and scored easily on Ciriaco's triple. Granderson appeared to misread the ball and lunged but could not snare it.

"It was great to win the game after getting tied in the eighth, that's for sure," Red Sox manager Bobby Valentine said.

Ciriaco (3-for-5 with three runs scored and a stolen base) had at least three hits for the fifth time in 15 starts since his recall from Triple-A Pawtucket on July 6. Ciriaco made eight starts at second base in place of the injured Dustin Pedroia at second base and has made five of his last six starts at designated hitter as David Ortiz recovers from a right Achilles strain.

With no homers as a major-leaguer and just 28 homers in 3,285 minor-league at-bats, Ciriaco is far from the prototypical designated hitter. But with a .356 average, five extra-base hits and six stolen bases in as many attempts, he continues to provide the Red Sox a valuable spark.

"He just comes in and plays and has good at-bats, runs the bases well, makes us a better team," Valentine said.

Dustin Pedroia brought Ciriaco home with a sacrifice fly and Alfredo Aceves earned his 22nd save with a perfect ninth as the Red Sox won for just the second time in their last eight games to improve to 50-51.

"That's a big win for us," Ciriaco said.

Andrew Miller (3-1) recorded one out for the win. Adrian Gonzalez was 3-for-5 with four RBI, including a three-run homer in the fifth.

The Yankees (60-40) lost for the sixth time in nine games.

The misplay in center field capped a frustrating game for Granderson, who went 0-for-4 with three strikeouts. He just missed hitting a game-tying two-run homer twice in the eighth, when he crushed deep fly balls off Padilla on consecutive pitches before he struck out.

"Who knows why I didn't get the best jump on the ball?" Granderson said of Ciriaco's triple. "He hadn't hit the ball that way all night, so that could have been a part of it. It got up. It got (up) a little bit further. I just couldn't get to it."

Teixeira's home run cost Red Sox starter Jon Lester the win. Lester, who had given up 21 earned runs in 12 1/3 innings over his previous three starts, allowed four runs on four hits Saturday while walking two and striking out six. His sixth-inning strikeout of Robinson Cano was the 1,000th of his career. Lester was impressive other than the fifth inning, when he gave up three runs but pitched out of the jam with the tying run at the plate to keep the Sox ahead 6-4.

"Real pleased with how I threw the ball," Lester said. "The biggest thing is we needed that game. We needed to win that game and guys came back and kept fighting. That was big for us."

Yankees starter CC Sabathia allowed six runs on eight hits and two walks with six strikeouts. The Sox tagged Sabathia for three runs apiece in the first and fifth.

Teixeira had two hits while Jayson Nix and Chris Stewart also homered for the Yankees.

After a fairly brisk first four innings, the Yankees and Red Sox reverted to their high-scoring ways in the fifth. With the Sox ahead 3-1, Sabathia set down the first two batters and was one pitch away from escaping the inning unscathed. But Ciriaco, whose two-out single was the first hit off Sabathia since the first, stole second base. Pedroia walked and Gonzalez hit a three-run homer to right field to extend Boston's lead to 6-1.

The Yankees retaliated with three runs of their own in the bottom of the inning, when their first four batters reached against Lester. Nix hit a two-run homer, after which Lester walked Russell Martin and allowed a single to Ichiro Suzuki. But after a Stewart bunt advanced the runners, Lester retired Derek Jeter on an RBI ground-out and struck out Granderson to keep the Sox ahead, 6-4.

Gonzalez also started Boston's three-run first inning with a one-out RBI double. Middlebrooks delivered a two-out, two-run double into the left-center field gap.

Lester, who allowed a career-high 11 runs in his previous start Sunday and entered Saturday with a 15.32 ERA in his last three outings, retired the first eight Yankees before Stewart's homer. The consecutive perfect innings in the first and second by Lester were his first pair of 1-2-3 innings since July 3 at Oakland.

NOTES: The start of the game was delayed two hours and four minutes by heavy rains. ... Yankees outfielder Nick Swisher (left hip flexor strain) didn't start for a seventh straight game but struck out as a pinch-hitter in the ninth. Manager Joe Girardi said Swisher felt good Friday, but he wanted to keep him out at least another day to make sure he's completely healed. "Another setback, now you're looking at 15 or 16 days (out)," Girardi said. "So one or two days might buy you a lot of time in the future."... Yankees third baseman Eric Chavez, who left Friday's game after he was hit on the right ankle by a Mark Melancon pitch, entered as a pinch-hitter for Nix in the seventh Saturday. He played third base the final two innings and went 0-for-2. Chavez, who is platooning with Nix at third base in the absence of Alex Rodriguez, likely would have sat Saturday and Sunday anyway with the Red Sox throwing left-handers Lester and Felix Doubront. ... Carl Crawford is a .319 hitter in 69 at-bats against Sabathia -- by far the best average of any Red Sox player with more than 20 at-bats against the Yankees' ace -- but the beleaguered left fielder was out of the starting lineup Saturday because the Sox don't want him playing more than four days in a row as he manages a left elbow injury that will likely require Tommy John surgery. Crawford told reporters he was embarrassed by sitting out against Sabathia. Crawford actually played in six straight games after he came off the disabled list July 16, but Valentine said he used his "veto power" then to go against the organizational plan for Crawford. "I did a manager no-no thing," Valentine said. "I went against what I was told to do. Never to be done again." ... Reliever Andrew Bailey, who has been out all season with a right thumb injury, is expected to begin a rehab assignment with the Gulf Coast League Red Sox on Monday. Valentine said Bailey will need up to eight minor-league appearances and is still weeks away from returning to the Sox. ... Boston reliever Scott Atchison, on the disabled list since July 15 with tightness in his right forearm, gave up three runs in an inning for Triple-A Pawtucket on Friday and told Valentine on Saturday morning that his arm didn't feel good. Valentine said Atchison would likely undergo an MRI.
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