BOSTON - It looks like it's time for the Red Sox to start thinking of Felix Doubront as more than just a fourth or fifth starter.
The left-hander, who hasn't lost since June 8, won his third straight start, combining with three relievers on a five-hitter that carried the Boston Red Sox to a 4-2 victory over the depleted New York Yankees in the opener of a post-break three-game series.
Doubront, 7-3 on the season with a 1.56 ERA over his last six starts, had a no-hitter through four innings and left with one out in the seventh after throwing 95 pitches on a steamy night.
"As we've seen over the last 11 times he's gone to the mound for us, he's working six and seven innings each time out, low runs," manager John Farrell after Doubront's latest effort. "In probably the last five or six of those starts, he's comes out and gotten right into the rhythm much earlier than maybe the first month and a half of the season.
"He gave us an opportunity to win; kept the game in check. Just another very solid performance on his part."
Junichi Tazawa, Craig Breslow and Koji Uehara finished up as the Red Sox snapped a two-game losing streak and handed the Yankees, making their first 2013 visit to Fenway, their third straight loss. That dropped fourth-place New York to a season-high seven games behind the first-place Red Sox.
Breslow pitched out of an eighth-inning jam (second and third, one out) before Uehara worked a perfect ninth for his ninth save.
The Red Sox maintained their 2 1/2-game lead over Tampa Bay in the AL East.
The confident Doubront is enjoying the ride, more than helping out with Clay Buchholz disabled and Jon Lester struggling.
"I keep going deep into games," he said. "My confidence is more in focus -- just trying to go deep and help the team win the game."
Andy Pettitte (7-7) gave up a leadoff home run to Jacoby Ellsbury and a two-run shot to Jonny Gomes in the second inning before settling down.
Gomes also had a double, Ellsbury a single and David Ortiz two doubles for Boston.
As if the Yankees, who put Derek Jeter back on the disabled list Friday, don't have enough injury problems, rookie left fielder Zoilo Almonte left the game with a left ankle sprain suffered running out a double-play grounder. X-rays were negative, but he'll go on the disabled list Saturday.
"You just deal with it," said Yankee manager Joe Girardi, who has had an entire season of having to deal with "it." "No one is going to feel sorry for us."
No one felt sorry for them when Brett Gardner was thrown out of the game by plate umpire Mike Everitt for throwing his helmet after a called third strike in the fifth inning.
"The ejection doesn't make any sense to me," Girardi said. "Write him up for throwing equipment. It's an emotional game that has some meaning to it. He didn't say anything to the umpire. Players are going to get frustrated."
Said Gardner: "Bottom line is I have to have better control of my emotions. I put us in a bad spot and caused some guys to play out of position. I was frustrated. I feel I let the team down and I'm sorry for that."
Gardner had stolen the first Yankee run. He walked leading off the fourth and was picked off by Doubront. But he beat Mike Napoli's throw to second and then, on the next pitch, took off for third. He scored easily when Jarrod Saltalamacchia threw the ball down the left-field line.
NOTES: Red Sox RF Shane Victorino, who has battled back and hamstring problems all season, left the game after grounding into a double play after the third inning with tightness in his left hamstring and is again day to day. ... The Yankees placed Jeter on DL (he can return July 27) and summoned Brent Lillibridge from the minors. Lillibridge started at 3B and then moved to RF. ... Red Sox RHP Andrew Bailey was placed on the DL and will likely be lost for the season with a right shoulder that figures to require surgery. RHP Jose De La Torre was brought up for his fourth stint with the club this season. ... Boston signed veteran RHPs Jose Contreras and Brandon Lyon to minor-league contracts and they headed for Pawtucket. ... The Red Sox welcomed New York City police officers to Fenway Park by playing Yankee "theme" song "New York, New York" after the first inning. ... Two pitchers who probably should have better records face each other in Saturday's second game of the series, with New York sending Hiroki Kuroda (8-6, 2.65 ERA, second in the AL) to the mound against John Lackey (8-6, 2.76, fourth in the league), Lackey one of the keys to Boston's first-half success. Lackey has had six straight quality starts, not allowing more than two earned runs in any of them. ... The Red Sox hope to have SS Stephen Drew (hamstring) back off the DL and in the lineup Saturday. ... Yankees GM Brian Cashman said 3B Alex Rodriguez, rehabbing in Triple-A, is on target to return wither Monday or Tuesday night at Texas. Rodriguez went 2-for-4 in Friday night's rehab start.