BOSTON -- David Ortiz added yet another memorable hit against the Yankees to his resume, hammering a two-run shot over the Green Monster in left-center against Dellin Betances with one out in the eighth to break a tie and lead the Red Sox to a 4-2 victory in the first rivalry showdown this season.
Big Papi jumped on a first-pitch curveball from Betances, and the Red Sox slugger smashed it at an exit speed of 105 mph and a projected distance of 402 feet from home plate, according to Statcast™. Ortiz was 0-for-7 with four strikeouts before his game-turning swing.
"Hey, you know that Betances is one of the toughest pitchers in the league right now," said Ortiz. "I have like seven or eight at-bats against him without success. I was pretty much watching the whole thing and making up my mind and saw him throw a lot of breaking balls to Mookie [Betts], the first batter he faced. He's got a great breaking ball. The one that I hit stayed up a little longer than usual. He's a tough guy to hit and finally I got a good hit."
Stifled by Yankees starter Masahiro Tanaka over the first six innings, the Red Sox at last rallied in the seventh. Jackie Bradley Jr.'s two-out, two-run double tied the game at 2. That was Tanaka's 99th and final pitch of the night. It was Bradley's third hit in the last week to either tie the game or put the Red Sox ahead.
"You definitely want to come through in that situation," Bradley said. "Whatever you can do to help the team win is obviously what you're trying to do. Like I said, we've been fortunate enough to get guys on base in front of me. It's a team sport. If they weren't doing their part, I wouldn't be able to do mine."
Over 6 2/3 innings, Tanaka gave up six hits and two runs, walking none and striking out five while taking a no-decision. Red Sox lefty Henry Owens struggled with his command at times, but he minimized the damage, allowing six hits and two runs over six innings.
Alex Rodriguez, who has thrived at Fenway Park in recent seasons, got the Yankees out to a 1-0 lead with a mammoth solo homer to left-center in the top of the second. Brett Gardner added an RBI single to right in the fifth.
"Tonight especially hurts," said A-Rod. "It was a game we kind of had. We played right into the strength of our team, but I have full belief we're going to be fine."
MOMENTS THAT MATTERED Red Sox finally solve Tanaka: In the first six innings, the Red Sox generated a total of three hits against Tanaka. They equaled that in the seventh inning. Travis Shaw and Brock Holt set the table with singles, and Bradley came through with his big two-out, two-run double off the Green Monster to tie the game. The pitch Bradley hit was a first-pitch splitter.
"It's obviously tough," Tanaka said through an interpreter. "I thought I pitched really well tonight. Balls were coming out of the hand really good, but it was that last out that I needed to get. That's on me." More >
Lighting it up: A-Rod homered for the second time in as many games to lead off the second inning, dispatching career homer No. 691 off a light pole in left field. The blast was Rodriguez's fourth of the season, and with the Yanks desperate for offense, it served as an indication that the veteran seems to have bounced back from his oblique stiffness earlier in the week. Statcast™ pegged the rocket at 108 mph.
"If you told me 10 years ago that Big Papi and I would be hitting home runs at 40, I probably would have laughed," Rodriguez said. "Obviously winning the game is the most important thing." More >
Owens bends, doesn't break: Considering that Owens didn't have his usual velocity on his fastball and he was struggling with his command, it would have been easy for him to fall in a sizable hole in this one. But he managed to keep the deficit at 2-0, and buy his offense time to come back.
"Just thinking back to the six innings that Henry gave us, it was a quality start," said Red Sox manager John Farrell. "He gathered himself and gained a little rhythm as the night went along. He got off to a little bit of a shaky start. He was kind of feeling for his release point. I thought he used his curveball tonight better than he did in Houston and threw enough offspeed to keep some guys off stride some, and the bullpen came in."
No room for error: The Yankees were one out away from getting the game into the hands of their vaunted bullpen, with Chasen Shreve and Betances both warming. Manager Joe Girardi opted to stick with Tanaka, who coughed up the lead on Bradley's game-changing hit, but a bigger issue was the continued struggles from the lineup. They managed just two runs despite having 10 men reach base in the first five innings against Owens, with four double plays contributing to the brownout.
"I really believe that we're going to bust out of this," Girardi said. "We have not yet and I know I keep saying it, but I really believe in my heart that these guys are going to hit and we're going to score a lot of runs." More >
"I'm going to plan to enjoy my retirement. If I get bored, I'll just call the Red Sox and ask them to activate me again." -- Ortiz, asked if he was going to miss the excitement of the Red Sox-Yankees rivalry
SOUND SMART WITH YOUR FRIENDS
Of the 48 homers Ortiz has hit in his career against the Yankees, 14 have put the Red Sox ahead.
WHAT'S NEXT Yankees:Michael Pineda will attempt to turn around a sluggish start to his season in Saturday night's 7:10 p.m. ET contest, making his fifth start of the year. He allowed a career-high four home runs to the Rays in his last outing, serving up seven runs and 10 hits in five innings.
Red Sox: Righty Rick Porcello, who has been on a roll of late, takes the ball seeking his fifth consecutive victory. The sinkerballer fired 6 1/3 shutout innings in his last start -- a win over the Braves.