NEW YORK — First baseman Mike Napoli hit a go-ahead home run with two outs in the top of the ninth inning off Masahiro Tanaka and the Boston Red Sox pulled out a 2-1 victory over the New York Yankees on Saturday night at Yankee Stadium.
The Red Sox beat the Yankees for the third time in nine games this season and did so when Napoli sent a Tanaka 1-2 fastball clocked at 96 mph over the right field wall for his 10th home run of the season.
Napoli’s home run came after Tanaka got designated hitter David Ortiz to bounce into a double play against a defensive shift.
The Red Sox reached the halfway point with a 37-44 record and did so on a night when left-hander Jon Lester (9-7) allowed an unearned run and five hits in eight innings. Lester won for the fifth time in six decisions and improved to 13-6 lifetime against the Yankees.
Tanaka (11-3) allowed two runs and seven hits but lost consecutive starts for the first time and was denied his major league-leading 12th victory. Before the ninth, he had retired 11 straight hitters but faced little margin for error because the Yankees struggled against Lester.
Lester held the Yankees hitless through five innings until left fielder Brett Gardner led off the sixth with a clean single up the middle. Gardner was caught stealing and the Yankees did not score after getting two more hits.
The Yankees appeared to score the go-ahead run in the eighth when former Red Sox center fielder Jacoby Ellsbury singled, stole second and kept running when Boston made two bad throws. But the play was nullified by first baseman Mark Teixeira getting called out on a close strike three for the final out of the eighth.
In the ninth, the Yankees went down in order against Koji Uehara, who posted his 17th save by striking out catcher Brian McCann.
Tanaka struck out the side in the second inning, but with one out in the third he allowed a solo home run to catcher David Ross, who drove a sinker into the left field seats.
The Yankees tied the score in the bottom of the third without a hit as second baseman Brian Roberts reached on an error by shortstop Stephen Drew and third baseman Yangervis Solarte was hit by a pitch. After a sacrifice bunt by Gardner, Roberts scored on a groundout by shortstop Derek Jeter and Lester then escaped by getting Ellsbury on a groundout that required Drew to make an off-balance throw.
The Red Sox opened the fourth with a single by second baseman Dustin Pedroia and Ortiz, but Tanaka struck out first baseman Mike Napoli and Drew before retiring third baseman Xander Bogaerts on a groundout.
Lester nearly lost his no-hit bid in the fifth when Bogaerts made an off-balance throw on Solarte’s dribbler down the third base line that appeared to take Napoli off the first base bag. First base umpire Mark Wegner initially ruled Solarte safe and the Red Sox challenged. After a 50-second review, the play was overturned.
NOTES: The Red Sox promoted prospect Mookie Betts from Triple-A Pawtucket and will play him in right field and center field. Betts has mostly played second base in the minors and was Boston’s fifth-round pick in 2011. He batted .354 for Double-A Portland before hitting .290 for Pawtucket. … The Red Sox optioned RHP Rubby De La Rosa to Pawtucket so he could start Tuesday night for the Triple-A team. … New York LHP CC Sabathia (right knee) was slated to throw about 40 to 45 pitches in a rehab game for Class A Tampa on Saturday night. … New York general manager Brian Cashman said he’s hoping to make an addition to the pitching staff and that he’d ideally like to do it before Sabathia and RHP Michael Pineda return.