NEW YORK — During his game-winning trip around the bases, Ichiro Suzuki said he did not want to do anything crazy.
Crazy would appropriately describe the four games played between the New York Yankees and Boston Red Sox.
The latest crazy ending featured Suzuki scoring the winning run on a wild pitch with two outs in the bottom of the ninth inning as the Yankees overcame Mariano Rivera’s blown save and salvaged the finale of their series against the Red Sox with a 4-3 victory Sunday at Yankee Stadium.
“If I had an opportunity, I wanted to take it,” Suzuki said through an interpreter. “I wasn’t going to go crazy and do something if wasn’t there. It wasn’t anything special. It was just I thought there was an opportunity there and I took it.”
The Yankees recorded their seventh walk-off win of the season and according to the Elias Sports Bureau, it was their first on a wild pitch since Thurman Munson scored on one by Cleveland’s Jim Bibby on Sept. 27, 1977.
Munson’s dash home came at a time when the Yankees were three games up on the Red Sox in the AL East with less than a week remaining. Suzuki’s dash came at the end of a weekend that all but eliminated the Yankees from catching the Red Sox.
Instead, the winning run ensured that the New York will be at least 2 1/2 games behind the Tampa Bay Rays for the second wild-card spot, though the Baltimore Orioles and the Indians remain ahead of them for that spot.
“It’s a big win for us,” Yankees manager Joe Girardi said. “We needed it because we had some tough games the last three days.”
The winning sequence developed with one out when Suzuki slapped a single off Brandon Workman (5-3) into left field. During a lengthy at-bat to Vernon Wells, Suzuki stole second on a 2-2 pitch and then took third on a flyout to right field.
On the next pitch, Workman tried to go up and in against Alfonso Soriano. The pitch caromed off catcher Jarrod Saltalamacchia’s glove and Suzuki easily scored.
“Anybody could make the read once that got by him,” Suzuki said. “I always prepare myself, I’m ready. I didn’t know it was going to come on that first pitch but I’m anticipating that to happen, so I was ready.”
“That late in the game, it’s starting to get some shadows but I went out there and talked to him,” Saltalamacchia said. “We had a plan. Our game plan was to throw the fastball up and in. He executed it right what I wanted. I just got to basically fight the (shadows) to get it.
The dramatic finish came after Rivera blew his seventh save, his most since 2001. Rivera was brought in to attempt his first six-out save in more than seven years and stranded pinch-runner Quintin Berry at first in the eighth.
“Mo’s our best option at that time and that’s why I went to him,” Girardi said. “It wasn’t that tough.”
“I’m not holding nothing back,” said Rivera, who is retiring after the season. “It’s not like I’m coming back next year.”
Three pitches into the ninth, the Red Sox tied it as Will Middlebrooks drove a 1-1 pitch to right field. Suzuki tracked the ball for a few steps, but it carried over the fence and as Middlebrooks rounded the bases, Rivera could be seen mouthing “unbelievable.”
“I didn’t think at all,” Suzuki said when asked if he thought that the ball was going over. “If you see I actually went forward. If the wind wasn’t blowing it would have been a pop-up in front of me, so it was definitely surprising to see that go out.”
Rivera’s two blown saves were prominent among things considered unbelievable during this series. The Red Sox won the first three games by blowing a five-run lead before winning Thursday. They rallied from a five-run deficit Friday and on Saturday nearly blew a nine-run deficit.
This time, offense was tough to find as both starting pitchers were effective.
New York’s Hiroki Kuroda allowed two runs and five hits over six innings while throwing a season-high 117 pitches, one shy of his career high set during his major league debut for the Los Angeles Dodgers in April 2008.
Boston’s Jon Lester allowed three runs and 10 hits in eight innings while throwing 115 pitches.
Before Rivera blew the save, the Yankees took a 3-2 lead on Robinson Cano’s two-out two-run double in the fifth after tying the game at 1-1 on Mark Reynolds’ run-scoring double in the fourth.
NOTES: OF Jacoby Ellsbury was not with the Red Sox as he spent the day in Colorado getting his foot examined. After the game, the team announced that he had a compression fracture that will sideline him for at least a week, though they believe Ellsbury could return before the end of the regular season. … RHP Clay Buchholz threw a bullpen session Sunday, three days after his third minor league rehab start for Triple-A Pawtucket and is on target to return to the rotation Tuesday in Tampa Bay. The Red Sox said they will limit him to 75-80 pitches. … Gardner did not get the start, which might have to do with his .182 batting average against Lester. … Sunday was scheduled days off for Boston’s Shane Victorino and Mike Napoli. … New York C Chris Stewart suffered a left foot contusion that required X-Rays.