NEW YORK — Down to their very last strike, the Boston Red Sox struck back. And denting Mariano Rivera, well, that compounded the New York Yankees’ misery.
Stephen Drew hit a tying single off the all-time saves leader with two outs in the ninth inning, then Shane Victorino lined a go-ahead single in the 10th that sent the Red Sox past the Yankees 9-8 in a Thursday night thriller.
“Just a character win, a team win,” Boston manager John Farrell said.
The Red Sox rallied in the opener of a four-game series loaded with playoff implications. It felt like a playoff matchup, too, especially after New York erased a 7-2 deficit with six runs in the seventh.
There were plenty of pitching changes and pinch-hitters and a key pinch-runner who will certainly remind some Red Sox fans of Dave Roberts’ daring dash from the past. Plus, there was an outburst — Joba Chamberlain (2-1) was ejected by first base umpire Joe West, who ruled Victorino checked his swing right before the deciding hit.
“It’s frustrating because, you know what, I thought he went. But you have to be able to overcome things,” Yankees manager Joe Girardi said.
The Red Sox own the best record in the AL, and won for the 10th time in 12 games. The Yankees had their three-game winning stopped in a loss that blunted their push for a wild-card spot.
This was the start of an 11-day stretch in which the longtime rivals will face each other seven times. Boston is 8-5 against the Yankees this year.
“We just blew it,” Rivera said.
Rivera entered with an 8-7 lead and got two quick outs. But Mike Napoli singled on a full count and speedy pinch-runner Quintin Berry took off on the next pitch, stealing and continuing to third when catcher Austin Romine’s errant throw bounced away. Drew tied it and handed Rivera his sixth blown save in 47 tries, a day after the closer was needed for four outs.
“He’s the best in the game,” Drew said. “He’s been fun to watch on the other side. But getting out there with two outs and trying to do your job, it makes it tough. He’s been doing it his whole career, so it’s just one of those things that worked out for me tonight.”
Berry’s steal might get Red Sox rooters thinking about when Roberts stole second as a pinch-runner — also with Rivera on the mound — to rescue the Red Sox in Game 4 of the 2004 AL championship series, sending them toward to a long-elusive title.
Well ahead in the AL East this year, these Red Sox still have a long way to go to match that championship run.
“If it leads us to where Dave did, we’ll take that, too,” Farrell said.
“Tonight was the first time he’s been pressed into that specific spot, and he came through,” he said about recently acquired Berry.
Jacoby Ellsbury singled with one out in the 10th off Chamberlain and stole second. Victorino held up on a half-swing, West ruled, and lined a single that sent Ellsbury scooting home. Right fielder Ichiro Suzuki made a strong throw, but Romine couldn’t handle it.
Craig Breslow (5-2) wound up with the win. He helped himself by picking off Alfonso Soriano at second base with one out in the ninth.
Koji Uehara earned his 18th save, extending his scoreless streak to 26 innings over 23 games.
Lyle Overbay’s two-out, two-run single capped a six-run rally in the seventh that put the Yankees ahead 8-7. Down 7-2, New York broke loose against starter Jake Peavy and relievers Matt Thornton and Junichi Tazawa.
The Yankees also stole a season-high six bases.
New York has been charging hard ever since Boston’s Ryan Dempster drilled Alex Rodriguez with a pitch in mid-August. This was the first game since that dustup at Fenway Park.
A day after a 20-4 romp over Detroit in which it tied a team mark with eight home runs, the highest-scoring club in the majors kept up the homer barrage behind Will Middlebrooks and Victorino.
Brett Gardner’s RBI single in the seventh got the Yankees within 7-3. Robinson Cano, who drove in three runs, had an RBI grounder. Soriano met Tazawa with an RBI single, Curtis Granderson doubled home a run and Overbay’s single put New York ahead.
Middlebrooks hit a solo homer off Ivan Nova for a 3-2 lead in the fourth. Victorino homered to begin a three-run fifth for a 6-2 lead.
ASTROS 3, ATHLETICS 2
OAKLAND, Calif. — Jose Altuve had two hits and drove in a run to back a stellar outing by Brad Peacock and Houston knocked Oakland out of first place in the AL West.
Trevor Crowe singled, doubled and scored to help the Astros to their third win in the last four games against their division rivals. Oakland had won 11 of the first 12 meetings between the teams.
Peacock, part of the offseason trade that sent infielder Jed Lowrie to the A’s, carried a shutout into the eighth inning, finishing with nine strikeouts and one walk.
Chris Carter, who was also included in the deal with Oakland, singled to drive in Houston’s first run off Sonny Gray (2-3).
The A’s went into the night tied with Texas for first place but couldn’t get much going against Peacock (4-5).
Josh Fields recorded the final four outs for his third save.
ANGELS 6, RAYS 2
ANAHEIM, Calif. — Collin Cowgill hit a three-run double, one of 11 hits Los Angeles had against reigning AL Cy Young winner David Price through his first 2 1-3 innings, and Jerome Williams ended a streak of eight straight losing decisions for the Angels.
Tampa Bay’s ninth loss in 12 games, coupled with Boston’s win at New York, dropped the Rays 6 1-2 games behind the AL East-leading Red Sox. The Rays complete their 10-game West Coast trip with three at Seattle.
Williams (6-10) allowed two runs and six hits over 6 1-3 innings, struck out seven and walked two as the Angels earned a split of the four-game series. The right-hander was winless in his previous 13 starts with a 6.58 ERA since winning at Baltimore on June 12.
Price (8-7) was charged with six runs while striking out six. The three-time All-Star left-hander has lost consecutive starts for the first time since dropping three straight from July 20-Aug. 2, 2011.
ORIOLES 3, WHITE SOX 1
BALTIMORE — Miguel Gonzalez allowed one run over seven innings and Baltimore hit three solo home runs.
Adam Jones, J.J. Hardy and Brian Roberts homered off Jose Quintana (7-6) to provide Baltimore with a much-needed win. The Orioles were coming off a 3-6 trip that dropped them four games off the pace in the AL wild-card race.
Jones’ shot in the first inning gave him 30 home runs for the season and 100 RBIs for the first time. Hardy and Roberts connected in the fifth, increasing Baltimore’s major league-leading home run total to 188.
Gonzalez (9-7) gave up four hits — all singles — walked one and struck out six to earn his first win in seven starts since July 20. He was 0-4 in that span.
Jim Johnson worked a perfect ninth for his 42nd save.
Dayan Viciedo had two hits for the White Sox, who have dropped seven straight. Chicago is an AL-worst 24-49 on the road and 32-48 in games decided by one or two runs.
ROYALS 7, MARINERS 6, 13 innings
KANSAS CITY, Mo. — Mike Moustakas homered to lead off the bottom of the 13th inning for Kansas City.
Moustakas homered to right on an 0-2 pitch from Chance Ruffin (0-1), who had not pitched in the majors since 2011.
Louis Coleman (3-0), the eighth Royals pitcher, retired the only batter he faced in the top of the 13th.
Kansas City rallied from five runs down and led 6-5 in the ninth before Raul Ibanez homered off Greg Holland with two outs to it. It was Holland’s first blown save since May 6 to end his streak of 31 consecutive saves.
Billy Butler went 5 for 5, matching his career high in hits for the Royals, while Emilo Bonifacio went 4 for 6.
The teams combined to use 44 players, including 14 pitchers.
Cardinals top Reds
CINCINNATI — Todd Frazier hit two homers, including the first of Cincinnati’s three off Lance Lynn, and the Reds recovered from a 16-inning loss by overpowering the St. Louis Cardinals 6-2, taking three of four in their final series of the season.
Jay Bruce and Shin-Soo Choo also hit solo homers off Lynn (13-10), who lasted five innings and gave up three homers for only the second time in his career. Frazier also connected off Seth Maness for the third multihomer game of his career.
By winning their final series together, the Reds tightened the NL Central race and ended the Cardinals’ dominance. St. Louis had won the last seven series between them. Cincinnati’s lone loss was 5-4 in 16 innings on Wednesday night.
Left-hander Tony Cingrani (7-3) returned from a sore back and did a little bit of everything. He pitched into the sixth inning, gave up two runs, bunted for a hit, stole a base and scored.
David Freese homered for the Cardinals, who have lost six of eight. With first-place Pittsburgh idle, the Cardinals slipped to 1½ games behind the Pirates while the Reds moved to 3 games out.
DIAMONDBACKS 4, GIANTS 2
SAN FRANCISCO — Paul Goldschmidt broke out of a slump with two hits and two RBIs, and Martin Prado and Aaron Hill also drove in runs to help Arizona beat San Francisco.
Trevor Cahill (6-10) won his third straight decision since coming off the disabled list. He allowed two runs and six hits in five innings, walking four and striking out three.
Brad Ziegler pitched the ninth for his eighth save.
Pablo Sandoval had two hits and drove in a run for the Giants, who have lost three of four. Hector Sanchez also drove in a run and Brandon Belt had two hits.
Ryan Vogelsong (3-5) gave up four runs and eight hits over 4 2-3 innings for the Giants.