NEW YORK -- Three runs ahead and six outs away from another win that would've extended their August surge, the Red Sox had their bullpen lined up just the way they wanted on Friday night at Yankee Stadium.
Addison Reed would get through the eighth and hand it off to All-Star closer Craig Kimbrel for the ninth. This was the blueprint everyone envisioned when Reed was acquired from the Mets on July 31 at the non-waiver Trade Deadline.
Only this time, the master plan unraveled in a painful 5-4 loss to the Yankees that ended Boston's winning streak at eight games.
In fact, it fell apart so swiftly for Reed (no outs, two hits, four runs) and Joe Kelly (two outs, three hits, one run) that Kimbrel never even got to pitch.
If you're wondering if Red Sox manager John Farrell contemplated going to Kimbrel when things started to fall apart in the eighth, the answer is no.
"No, no, not looking to go to Craig in that spot," said Farrell. "That's the reason Addison is here, so we can avoid those one-plus innings for Craig. We've seen and experienced what it does to him over the course of the full season, so we feel very good about the strength of our bullpen and the ability to go to multiple guys in that spot. It didn't work tonight."
For Reed, it was a sour first taste of the Red Sox-Yankees rivalry and also a glimpse of the type of drama that has been known to unfold in these matchups.
"It happens, but I picked a bad time for it to happen," said Reed. "The good thing is we still have a month and a half left in the season."
Instead of taking a season-high 5 1/2-game lead atop the American League East into Saturday's game, the Red Sox know that the Yankees are lurking just 3 1/2 back after their wild comeback.
The first sign that something was off for Reed was when he opened the game-turning, five-run bottom of the eighth by hitting Brett Gardner on the right foot. The last time Reed had hit a batter was on March 23, 2014, when he was pitching for the D-backs against the Dodgers in Sydney.
"It's frustrating any time you hit a guy, especially leading off an inning, but it's going to happen," said Reed. "Nothing I can do about it now."
Six pitches after Reed hit Gardner, Aaron Hicks came up with the biggest hit of the night -- a two-run homer down the line in right that sent Yankee Stadium into a frenzy and slimmed Boston's lead to 3-2.
"You never help yourself out when you're all over the place," said Reed. "I put myself in a bad position by hitting Gardner, falling behind in the count on Hicks. Falling behind in the count makes hitting a little easier for the other team. It's one of those nights to forget about."
For Hicks, who also made a cannon throw from left field in the ninth to complete a double play, it was one to remember.
"I've never faced him before, so I was just looking to try to get the ball up and try to get a hit in that situation," said Hicks. "I swung at two sliders down that were balls, and right after those two, I just wanted to get him up and put a good swing on it."
"I flipped in a 3-2 slider up in there, probably not the best slider I threw all night, but he didn't miss it, he played it to the ballpark and you guys all know what happened," said Reed.
If Reed could have gathered himself after the homer, the Red Sox still could have prevailed. But Gary Sanchez followed with a single to left-center. Then a wild pitch moved Sanchez to second and Aaron Judge walked.
Farrell had little choice but to try someone else, so he went to Kelly. That didn't work either. Didi Gregorius belted an RBI single to tie the game. Todd Frazier followed with an RBI single and the Yankees were ahead. Both liners fell just in front of left fielder Andrew Benintendi.
The Red Sox entered the night 49-3 when leading after seven.
"As a bullpen we've done well," said Kelly. "It's been one after another picking each other up. It's just one of those nights where we didn't do our jobs. The good news is we get to play these guys tomorrow and go back out there and shut them down."
Ian Browne has covered the Red Sox for MLB.com since 2002. Follow him on Twitter @IanMBrowne and Facebook. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.