The hits are coming throughout the lineup for the Boston Red Sox as they bear down on their first division title since 2007.
It's an experience CC Sabathia knows all too well pitching at Fenway Park this year.
The Red Sox try to further Sabathia's misery in Boston on Saturday when they continue their series against the New York Yankees.
Boston (90-59) has won eight of 10 to pull away in the AL East, and Friday night's 8-4 victory maintained its 8 1/2-game edge over Tampa Bay. In the last nine games, the Red Sox have belted 22 home runs and scored 77 runs while compiling a .307 average.
Jarrod Saltalamacchia provided the decisive blow with a tiebreaking grand slam and was one of five players with two hits. The catcher is 3 for 6 with two homers in his last two games and 4 for 7 with two doubles this year versus Sabathia.
"That's what is making this season fun,'' Red Sox slugger David Ortiz said after going 2 for 3. "You're not talking about a team that depends on one guy. I know that everybody has to be careful with myself, but there are plenty of guys.''
Ortiz is batting .370 in 14 games versus the Yankees this year, with 11 of his 20 hits going for extra bases. He's only 2 for 8 against Sabathia (13-12, 4.82 ERA) in 2013, but the rest of the lineup has picked him up at Fenway - tagging the left-hander for 13 runs and 16 hits over 10 1-3 innings in two games.
That inconsistency has plagued Sabathia all season. He set a career high in losses after Baltimore reached him for four runs and seven hits in 7 1-3 innings of a 4-2 defeat Monday. It was the 12th consecutive outing he has yielded at least three runs, further distancing him from his previous career high of six set in 2011.
Even with his struggles at Fenway, he labored to a win there Aug. 18, giving up six runs and seven hits with five walks in 5 1-3 innings of a 9-6 victory. Sabathia, 2-1 despite a 7.15 ERA in four starts versus the Red Sox this year, is 8-6 in 19 outings against them with the Yankees.
Friday's loss snapped a three-game winning streak for the Yankees (79-69), who were overtaken by Cleveland in the wild-card race and dropped two games behind the Rays for the second spot. Robinson Cano went 4 for 4 with three doubles and two RBIs for New York, which has been outscored 106-82 in losing 11 of 17 to Boston.
"They've got a very good team over there,'' Yankees star Alex Rodriguez said. "They're a handful right now.''
While Cano upped his lifetime average at Fenway to .347, he's had limited success against Jon Lester (13-8, 3.86), going 17 for 66 with 14 strikeouts.
Lester worked in and out of trouble in the Bronx last Sunday, not getting a decision after allowing three runs and 10 hits while stranding eight runners in eight innings of New York's eventual 4-3 walkoff win.
He is 1-1 with a 4.19 ERA in three starts against the Yankees this year - all on the road - but has not beaten them at home in four starts since 2010.
Red Sox closer Koji Uehara will hope to get an opportunity to extend his electric run of shutting opponents down. He pitched a 1-2-3 ninth Friday and has retired 37 straight batters - 17 by strikeout - for the longest run by a reliever since Bobby Jenks set down 41 in a row for the Chicago White Sox in 2007.
Lyle Overbay's double on Aug. 17 was the last hit Uehara allowed.
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- Boston Red Sox
- New York Yankees
- CC Sabathia