Manager Bobby Valentine's late ejection lit a fire under the Boston Red Sox as they delivered the go-ahead run to edge the New York Yankees 3-2 in a fiery encounter on Sunday.
Pedro Ciriaco hit a soft single into the outfield for the winning run in the 10th to give the struggling Red Sox an emotional three-game series win over the first-place Yankees, finishing the dust-up without their manager.
Valentine was thrown out of the game, along with pitcher Josh Beckett, for arguing a call in the 10th after Will Middlebrooks was hit by a pitch but not awarded first base because the umpire said he was attempting to bunt.
"We had a view of the replay underneath (the clubhouse) so we knew what the play was," Boston's Adrian Gonzalez told reporters. "It's a tough play for them, and we were just saying 'take the time to get it right.'
Middlebrooks responded to the controversy with a single that put two men on base and set the scene for Ciriaco.
Ciriaco, who was called up from the minor leagues earlier this month, was the hero again after also getting the smacking RBI in the ninth-inning of Saturday's contest.
"Somehow in that situation, I feel confidence," said the 26-year-old.
Boston had taken a 2-0 lead in the second on a two-RBI double from Ryan Sweeney.
However, Russell Martin brought New York back with a homer in the seventh and a game-tying single in the eighth.
With two wins in the three-game set against the Yankees, the Red Sox got back to 51-51 but still trail American League East-leading New York (60-41) by 9 1/2 games.
Reliever Alfredo Aceves tossed the final 2 1/3 innings to get the win and build off starter Felix Doubront's 6 1/3-inning effort.
Hiroki Kuroda started for the Yankees and pitched eight solid innings of a no-decision.
(Reporting by Jahmal Corner in Los Angeles; Editing by Alastair Himmer)