"We had five hits or something," Red Sox second baseman Dustin Pedroia said of what was actually a six-hit attack. "You're not going to win many games doing that. He's got great stuff. Shoot, his fastball, he throws, mid, upper 90s. Slider, curveball are sharp. It's not a surprise. We knew that coming in. We tried to put good at-bats together. We just didn't get anything done."
Red Sox ace Josh Beckett suffered the tough-luck loss, scattering nine hits and one run over seven innings, walking one and striking out six.
Despite a 3.83 ERA, Beckett is 9-7 and has now either had a loss or a no-decision on six occasions when he has surrendered two earned runs or fewer.
"A loss is a loss," said Beckett. "It's what happens. I pitched a decent game, and I still lost. It is what it is. You'd definitely like to have something to show for it in wins and losses, but I think everybody in the clubhouse is trying their hardest. It's my loss. I was the second-best pitcher today, and ultimately that gets you a loss most of the time."
Once Chamberlain exited, the Red Sox had their most promising rally of the night in the eighth. Jed Lowrie led off with a single against Yankees reliever Kyle Farnsworth and Coco Crisp reached on a one-out infield dribbler down the first-base line. Not taking any chances, Yankees manager Joe Girardi went to closer Mariano Rivera. Jacoby Ellsbury struck out looking and Pedroia hit one back to the box, ending the threat.
Frustration boiled over in the ninth, when Mike Lowell struck out looking against Rivera on a questionable pitch and was ejected. Lowell was so disgusted by home-plate umpire Marty Foster's call that he threw his helmet and had to be restrained by manager Terry Francona.
"When you're facing Mariano, you're in a battle," said Lowell. "He was hitting his corners, you're fouling balls off. The pitch was a ball. I'm really not one to argue that much. I looked at the video to make sure I wasn't nuts. That's just frustrating. That was a little bit of frustration. There were a couple of calls during the game that I don't think anyone agreed with."
The Red Sox fell one game behind the Rays in the American League East and saw their edge over the Yankees slip to two games.
Ortiz, playing his first game since May 31, got a huge ovation when he dug in for his first at-bat in the bottom of the first. Though he struck out in that instance, Ortiz ripped a single that Yankees second baseman Robinson Cano could not handle in the fourth. The designated hitter -- who had been sidelined with a partially torn tendon sheath in his left wrist -- went 1-for-4 on the night.
"I thought his bat speed was tremendous," said Francona. "You're talking about facing a guy who may have some of the best stuff in the league and I thought he looked very good. It didn't look like he was thinking about anything besides driving the ball, which is good."
The Yankees generated their first substantial rally against Beckett with two outs in the third. Bobby Abreu and Alex Rodriguez roped back-to-back singles to put runners at the corners with one out, and Jason Giambi knocked in the first and only run of the game with a check-swing, RBI single that beat the overshift.
"The pitch to Giambi wasn't exactly where I wanted it, but it was actually sufficient enough to get a weak ground ball," Beckett said. "It just happened to be in a position where nobody was playing."
There were nearly some fireworks in the seventh, when Chamberlain buzzed Kevin Youkilis up and in with the pitch. It was the fourth time in the past two seasons that Chamberlain has thrown a pitch either behind Youkilis, or up and in on him. Foster got in front of Youkilis before any type of incident could occur and issued warnings to both teams. Youkilis wound up striking out.
"He has great command until Youk gets in there," Francona said. "I don't know [if there was intent]. I would not have that that answer."
Unfortunately for the Red Sox, they didn't have any answers against Chamberlain.
"He kept guys off base, he threw strikes, he didn't walk anybody," said catcher Jason Varitek. "He had very good stuff."
Stuff that was so good it spoiled the return of Ortiz, not to mention another solid performance by Beckett.