NEW YORK (AP) — Gleyber Torres hit a first-inning grand slam, left-hander James Paxton cruised after that and the New York Yankees three-hit the Boston Red Sox in a 4-2 victory Friday night.
Boston has lost five straight for the first time since 2015 and dropped 11 1/2 games behind first-place New York in the AL East.
Red Sox slugger J.D. Martinez hit a two-run homer during yet another rocky first inning by Paxton, but Torres bailed him out with his slam off Eduardo Rodriguez (13-5). Paxton (6-6) struck out the side in the second and completed six innings on 100 pitches, allowing two hits and two runs with six strikeouts.
New York earned its major league-leading 35th comeback win and improved to 23-21 when its opponent scores first. The Yankees are the only team in baseball with a winning record in such games.
Yankees relievers Tommy Kahnle and Zack Britton pitched a scoreless inning each, and Aroldis Chapman was perfect in the ninth for his 28th save.
Boston had scored six or more runs in seven straight games against New York, a first in the rivalry. The Red Sox entered the game leading the majors with 640 runs and a .277 batting average.
The Red Sox arrived in the Bronx for this four-game set after standing pat at Wednesday’s trade deadline and having been swept over three games by the Rays at Fenway Park. The reigning World Series champions are four games behind Tampa Bay for the final AL wild card.
The first inning again proved a major obstacle for Paxton. After striking out Mookie Betts and Rafael Devers, he walked Xander Bogaerts and allowed Martinez’s 24th homer.
Paxton has given up 11 homers in 19 first innings and has an 11.37 ERA before getting three outs. It was the fifth straight game Paxton allowed a run in the first inning, including when he gave up seven runs in four innings at Fenway Park in his previous outing.
Torres turned on a fastball off the plate inside and lined it out for his slam. That came after Rodriguez allowed DJ LeMahieu’s leadoff single and walks to Aaron Judge and Edwin Encarnación. Torres has 21 homers this season.
Both pitchers settled after the noisy first. Rodriguez covered 6 2/3 innings despite allowing a career-high six walks. He struck out eight and gave up five hits and four runs.
LeMahieu had two hits in his return after missing four games with a strained groin.
Aaron Hicks was 0 for 4 with three strikeouts for New York and is 1 for 22 with 10 punchouts in his past six games. Judge struck out twice and has three hits in his last 29 at-bats.
Yankees left-hander J.A. Happ and Red Sox lefty David Price — the projected starters for Sunday’s series finale — were both placed on the paternity list Friday. New York manager Aaron Boone said Happ is expected to return to the club in time to make his start, and Boston’s Alex Cora was hopeful that Price would do the same. Players can spend one to three days consecutively on the paternity list.
Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor attended the game and met another famous judge — Yankees star Aaron Judge.
Diana Munson, widow of former Yankees catcher Thurman Munson, threw the ceremonial first pitch on the 40th anniversary of her husband’s death in a plane crash. Munson teammate Willie Randolph caught the pitch.
Red Sox: RHP Heath Hembree was placed on the 10-day IL with right lateral elbow inflammation. Hembree was on the IL from June 14-July 4 with forearm tightness and has struggled with a sluggish fastball and poor location since. … RHP Josh Smith and INF Marco Hernandez were recalled from Triple-A.
Yankees: OF Brett Gardner was activated from the 10-day IL, utilityman Tyler Wade was sent to Triple-A and LHP Stephen Tarpley was recalled from Triple-A. Gardner was 0 for 3… 1B Luke Voit had a cortisone shot to address a sports hernia that landed him on the injured list Wednesday. The Yankees expect to know in a week whether Voit will require surgery. … SS Didi Gregorius was held out of the lineup with a strained left hand. He rolled over his left wrist fielding a ball Wednesday. Boone was hopeful Gregorius would avoid the IL. … OF Giancarlo Stanton (sprained right knee) has not yet resumed baseball activities.
The rivals play a split doubleheader Saturday. Yankees RHP Domingo Germán (13-2, 4.08) will face Red Sox LHP Chris Sale (5-10, 4.26) in the 1:05 p.m. game, and New York will likely use an opener in the 7:05 p.m. game against Boston LHP Brian Johnson (1-1, 6.43).
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