Yankees salvage finale against Red Sox

The SportsXchange

NEW YORK -- Manager Joe Girardi tinkered with his lineup card Thursday, hoping to wake the New York Yankees' bats from their two-game, season-opening slumber.

Catcher Francisco Cervelli provided an on-field defensive wakeup call, then hit a solo home run, leading the Yankees to a 4-1 victory over the Boston Red Sox on Thursday for New York's victory of the season.

Yankees left-hander Andy Pettitte (1-0) struggled early with his command in the chilly Bronx weather, giving up first-inning singles to Shane Victorino and Mike Napoli.

With two outs, Pettitte bounced a pitch past Cervelli that rolled to the backstop. As Cervelli slowly retrieved the ball, Victorino came around third and headed toward home.

"I saw Pettitte wasn't covering, and I hoped I was going to beat Cervelli to the plate," Victorino said.

Cervelli recovered in time to tag Victorino head-first and end the inning.

"I was one step away from being safe," Victorino said.

The play appeared to revive the Yankees and Cervelli.

"Yeah, I fell asleep a little bit on that one," Cervelli said.

After a scoreless first inning, Lyle Overbay hit a two-run single in the second, and Brett Gardner added a solo home run in the third to give the Yankees an early 3-0 lead. Cervelli added a blast off reliever Clayton Mortensen that bounced off the back wall of the Red Sox bullpen in the seventh, putting New York in front 4-1.

Gardner and Cervelli each hit a homer for the first time since Sept. 6, 2011, when they went back-to-back against the Baltimore Orioles' Tommy Hunter.

Pettitte's shutout bid was broken up in the seventh by rookie Jackie Bradley Jr.'s RBI double. The hit marked the sixth time Bradley has reached base in his first 14 major league plate appearances. David Ross threatened to drive Bradley home with a deep fly ball that Gardner caught up to near the warning track.

"Just when we seem to get a little momentum and finally be able to break through against Pettitte, Gardner shut it down with a heck of a play in center," Boston manager John Farrell said.

Pettitte, 40, scattered eight hits in eight innings, giving up one run and striking out three.

"He didn't look like an old-timer tonight," Farrell said. "He pitched a very good game against us."

Mariano Rivera made his season debut in the ninth, earning the save despite allowing Will Middlebrooks' run-scoring groundout. It was Rivera's 69th save of a regular-season Pettitte win, extending his all-time record for a reliever with a starter.

Rivera was marking his first regular-season appearance since April 30, 2012. He missed the rest of last year after sustaining a right knee injury that ultimately necessitated surgery.

"It felt good to be back out there," Rivera said. "I felt a lot of emotion coming in from the bullpen, but when you're in that situation, you have to control that because your job is to finish the game for your team."

Right-hander Ryan Dempster lost his Red Sox debut, and he remains winless in six career starts against the Yankees despite his eight-strikeout performance. He allowed three runs on five hits and four walks in five innings.

"He stayed away from damage in a couple of innings where he had some men on base," Farrell said. "But his pitch count really got him tonight."

Boston won the series' first two games, 8-2 Monday and 7-4 Wednesday.

NOTES: The Red Sox head to Toronto for a three-game series against the Blue Jays that begins Friday night. Boston left-hander Felix Doubront will start against Toronto right-hander Josh Johnson. The Red Sox play their home opener Monday against the Baltimore Orioles. ... The Red Sox have failed to homer in their first three games of the season for the first time since 1993, when the drought lasted five games. ... Stephen Drew (seven-day concussion disabled list) made a rehab appearance Thursday with Double-A Portland, playing five innings at shortstop and going 0-for-3 with an RBI against the Yankees' Trenton affiliate. ... The Yankees begin a three-game road series Friday against the defending American League champion Detroit Tigers. New York's Ivan Nova will face Detroit's Doug Fister in a battle of right-handers. ... Yankees pitchers held their opponent homerless in the first three games of the season for the first time since 1996. ... Yankees right-hander Hiroki Kuroda (bruised finger) felt no further ill effects from Wednesday's game and is scheduled to throw his normal bullpen session Friday at Detroit.
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