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Red Sox 9, Yankees 2

The SportsXchange

BOSTON -- Daniel Nava stroked four hits, Mike Napoli hit a long two-run homer, and the Boston Red Sox completed a three-game sweep of the fading New York Yankees with a 9-2 rout Sunday night.

With the Tampa Bay Rays losing to the Twins at Minnesota earlier in the day, Boston reduced its magic number for clinching its first American League East title since 2007 to four.

New York was officially eliminated from the division title race on the night the Red Sox honored retiring closer Mariano Rivera.

The battered Yankees, who have 12 games left, remain three games behind both Tampa Bay and the Texas Rangers in the race for the two AL wild cards.

Clay Buchholz pitched six strong innings in his second start off the disabled list, and David Ortiz added two RBI singles as the Red Sox. Boston won the season series 13-6 from its rivals (6-1 the last two weekends, scoring 59 runs on 82 hits in the seven games).

The Red Sox outscored New York 22-7 in the series.

Yankees starter Ivan Nova (8-5) suffered his first loss since July 27. Nova, 4-0 with four no-decisions in his previous eight starts, left his outing last week in Baltimore with forearm tightness, and he lasted just four-plus innings Sunday. He gave up five runs (four earned) on six hits and four walks.

Buchholz (11-0, 1.51 ERA) limited the Yankees to two hits, four walks and one first-inning run, which was unearned because of his own error on a pickoff throw.

Napoli homered (No. 22) in the first inning and struck out twice later, earning his first career ejection (from Ron Culpa) after throwing his helmet down and arguing after the second whiff. That one gave him 178 strikeouts for the season, breaking Mark Bellhorn's single-season franchise record, set in 2004.

The Red Sox, 18-4 in their last 22 games as they close in on their first postseason berth since 2009, pulled a double steal in the fourth inning. Rookie Xander Bogaerts (two hits) swiped second (his first career steal) as a bad throw allowed Jarrod Saltalamacchia to steal home.

Dustin Pedroia ripped a two-run double in the seventh inning.

The Yankees had eight hits in the last two games of the series.

The Rivera ceremony began with a detailed look at the great closer's disastrous ninth inning in Game 4 of the 2004 AL Championship Series, including interviews with Kevin Millar, Dave Roberts and Bill Mueller. They were the three Red Sox who combined to keep their team alive before the greatest comeback/collapse in baseball postseason history.

Then, the message board read the words, "But seriously ..." and the real tribute started, Rivera receiving several gifts, including the No. 42 used on the manual scoreboard at Fenway, with all of the current Red Sox having signed it.

The Yankees then parlayed Buchholz's throwing error on a pickoff attempt into their first lead of the series, Alex Rodriguez driving in the first-inning run with a groundout.

The Red Sox quickly answered with their three in the bottom of the first; then made it 4-1 on the double steal in the fourth. Nova was gone after he hit Mike Carp with the bases loaded and none out in the fifth, but Adam Warren relieved and avoided further damage.

NOTES: Rodriguez was actually cheered by the Boston crowd when it was announced Vernon Wells was hitting for him in the fifth inning. Rodriguez has been DHing because of hamstring issue, but he left with a right calf injury. ... OF Shane Victorino (hamstring, back) was rested by Boston, while 3B Will Middlebrooks (in an 0-for-17 slump) was out due to flu-like symptoms. ... Both teams are off Monday. The Yankees send LHP Andy Pettitte to face the Blue Jays in Toronto on Tuesday, while RHP Ryan Dempster opens Boston's three-game series against the Baltimore Orioles the same night. Pettitte is 3-0 against Toronto this season, 25-13 lifetime.
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