The New York Yankees have a ways to go to catch the AL East-leading Boston Red Sox, but Alfonso Soriano is doing all he can to help them make a legitimate run.
Soriano looks to continue his torrid pace at the plate in support of red-hot Hiroki Kuroda as the visiting Yankees try to hand the Red Sox a season-high fourth consecutive defeat Saturday.
New York (63-58) had dropped six of the first nine with Boston this season before Soriano hit a three-run homer for one of his three hits and Mark Reynolds delivered a two-run shot in his Yankee debut during Friday's 10-3 win at Fenway Park.
"It was a big win for us," winning pitcher Andy Pettitte said. "We've got to win this series. We've got to win a lot of series.''
Fourth in the East and still contending in the wild-card race, the Yankees have won six of eight and sit 7 1/2 games back of a Red Sox (72-52) team that's dropped six of eight.
"Two swings cost us five runs,'' said Boston manager John Farrell, whose club also committed three errors for the second time in three games. "This wasn't one of our more sharp efforts.''
Soriano has carried the Yankees' offense of late, going 13 for 18 with five homers and 18 RBIs in four games.
"I think the motivation (is) going back to the Yankees, trying to help the team win," said Soriano, hitting .320 with eight home runs and 26 RBIs in 19 games since coming over from the Cubs.
Reynolds, who signed with New York on Thursday after he was released by Cleveland, had two hits and three RBIs. He hit .125 with no homers, two RBIs and struck out 28 times in his final 21 games for the Indians, but is batting .321 with six RBIs versus Boston in 2013.
Kuroda (11-7, 2.33 ERA) is 4-1 with a 0.94 ERA in his last seven starts and ranks second in the AL in ERA. For the fifth time during that stretch, he did not allow a run while giving up three hits and striking out seven in eight innings of a 2-1 victory over the Los Angeles Angels on Monday.
"I don't know if you can expect anyone to be that dominant in this day and age when there's a lot of ways teams can score runs, but he's just been brilliant,'' manager Joe Girardi said.
The right-hander allowed two runs in seven innings of a 5-2 win at Boston on July 20 to improve to 1-2 with a 4.61 ERA against the Red Sox this season.
Scheduled Boston starter John Lackey (7-10, 3.32) struck out seven in that contest opposite Kuroda, but also allowed four runs and 10 hits in 6 1-3 innings. That defeat began a stretch where he's 0-4 with a 4.96 ERA in his last four starts.
The right-hander dropped his second straight after he yielded four runs and seven hits in seven innings o f a 4-3 loss at Kansas City on Sunday.
Boston has totaled 14 runs and stranded 47 runners while losing four of five.
Slugger David Ortiz is 4 for 24 in the last six, but 6 for 9 with a homer versus Kuroda.
New York's Robinson Cano is batting .425 during an 11-game hitting streak, and .350 with three doubles in his last 20 at-bats against Lackey.
Amidst frequent booing and taunts from the Fenway crowd, Alex Rodriguez went 2 for 4 with a walk Friday. He has hit safely in nine of 10 games this season.