BOSTON — The New York Yankees are starting to look like the Bronx Bombers again.
Led by a recent surge by Alfonso Soriano, the Yankees are also starting to make a run.
Soriano continued his recent hot stretch with a three-run homer and four RBIs, newly signed Mark Reynolds hit a two-run homer and the Yankees beat the Boston Red Sox 10-3 on Friday night.
“It’s unbelievable,” New York third baseman Alex Rodriguez said of Soriano, breaking into a slight smile after being booed repeatedly during the game. “It’s like slow-pitch softball.”
It was the fifth win in six games for the Yankees, who are starting to creep back into the American League East chase. They trail division-leading Boston by 7 1/2 games after Friday night’s win.
Nearly a week ago, Yankees manager Joe Girardi said on his radio show that the club needed to win 35 of its final 47 games to land a playoff spot. They’ve gone out and responded with a good week thanks mostly to Soriano’s recent tear.
“They’re having fun with him,” he said of the team’s reaction to Soriano. “They probably don’t want to see him come out of it either. They’re laughing with him and having fun with him.”
Soriano has gone 13-for-21 in his last four games with 18 RBIs and nine runs scored.
Soriano walked into the middle of the room, approached a group of reporters and joked, “Here we go again,” about the attention for his answers during the surge.
“I think motivation, going back to the Yankees, trying to help the team win,” he said of why things are going so well lately.
The Red Sox lost for the sixth time in eight games and saw their lead atop the East cut to one game after Tampa Bay beat Toronto.
Andy Pettitte (8-9) pitched solidly into the seventh inning, giving up three unearned runs and six hits, striking out five and walking one before leaving with two outs in the inning. He was 0-3 in his last five starts and ended a franchise-record string of giving up at least one run in the first inning of eight straight starts.
“We’re playing well,” Pettitte said. “Hopefully, we can rattle off a whole lot of wins in the last 40 games.”
Felix Doubront (8-6) was tagged for seven runs and eight hits — two homers — in four innings.
The Yankees opened a 7-0 lead before Boston made a charge.
“Two swings cost us five runs,” Boston manager John Farrell said. “This wasn’t one of our more sharp efforts.”
Girardi could only smile when asked about his lineup now looks against left-handed pitching with Soriano and Reynolds.
“We’ve got a lot more power,” he said.
Boston cut the lead to 7-3 against Pettitte in the seventh and had two runners on with two outs when pinch-hitter Mike Carp went down to first, claiming he was hit on the front foot by reliever Shawn Kelly’s pitch. After the umpires huddled, he was called back to the plate. Two pitches later, he was called out on strikes.
Carp fired his helmet to the ground and was ejected by plate umpire Bill Welke.
RBI singles by Ichiro Suzuki, Reynolds and Chris Stewart against Drake Britton made the score 10-3 in the eighth.
The Yankees wasted little time breaking to a big lead against Doubront. Soriano’s RBI single gave them a 1-0 lead in the first and his three-run homer made it 6-0 in the third.
“You’re looking at a powerful right-handed hitter in the middle of the lineup who caught fire since he came over,” Farrell said.
Leading 1-0 in the second, Reynolds homered into the seats above the Green Monster to make the score 3-0. Picked up because the club needed a right-handed bat to platoon with left-handed hitting Lyle Overbay, Reynolds became the 14th Yankee since 1961 to homer in his first plate appearance with the team.
RAYS 5, BLUE JAYS 4: Tampa Bay continued its climb back toward the top of the American League East on Friday night as Jose Lobaton’s walk-off triple sent the Rays to a 5-4 win over the Toronto Blue Jays at Tropicana Field.
With the victory, the Rays are now one game behind the Red Sox for the division lead. Tampa Bay has won three straight on the heels of a six-game losing skid, the club’s longest since the start of the 2011 season. The Rays also have won 17 of their last 21 home games.
On Friday night, before a home crowd of 15,433, Tampa Bay engineered a quick and decisive ninth-inning rally to pull ahead of Toronto. Rays shortstop Yunel Escobar worked a one-out walk against Blue Jays left-hander Aaron Loup, setting the stage for Lobaton. The catcher lined the first pitch he saw from Loup down the line into the right-field corner, allowing Escobar to score the winning run from first base.
Jeremy Hellickson recorded his first quality start since July 26 by allowing three runs over six innings — a welcome sign for the Rays right-hander after three straight short, subpar performances. And Tampa Bay’s lineup provided enough support against knuckleballer R.A. Dickey, who previously had given the Rays nothing but trouble at Tropicana Field.
The Blue Jays took a 2-1 lead in the fifth, when Jose Reyes scored on Edwin Encarnacion’s single to left. They added another run in the sixth when Matt Joyce couldn’t reel in catcher Josh Thole’s fly ball to right, sending the ball rolling into foul territory long enough for Thole to reach third base. He scored on Anthony Gose’s chopper up the middle, giving Toronto a 3-1 lead.
Tampa Bay pulled within one run in the sixth, when Joyce mashed his 15th homer on the 11th pitch of the at-bat against Dickey.
The Rays finally took the lead in the seventh. Escobar tied the game at 3-3 on an RBI groundout, then Sam Fuld laced an RBI single to left to score the go-ahead run.
The Blue Jays struck first.
Designated hitter Adam Lind drove in Maicer Izturis with a single to right field in the first inning. Izturis had been hit by a pitch by Hellickson and advanced to second on Encarnacion’s single to left.
After being kept off the bases for two innings, the Rays answered in the third. Escobar led off with a triple to the wall and scored on Jose Lobaton’s single to center.