NEW YORK (Reuters) - Big-spending Boston brought their new-look team to the Bronx for the first time to face arch-rivals New York on Friday and emerged with a 5-4 win over the Yankees after Adrian Gonzalez belted a home run and drove in two runs.
Boston, closing in on New York’s Major-League leading $200 million payroll, spent nearly $300 million on long-term deals for new players Gonzalez and Carl Crawford but began 2011 with a six-game losing streak and dropped eight of their first 10.
Gonzalez, however, is doing his part to get the Red Sox rolling in their first visit to New York this season, belting a home run in the fourth inning off Bartolo Colon, and Crawford’s ground out brought home another run in the same inning.
With the score tied 2-2 after Yankees catcher Russell Martin cleared the wall in center off Boston pitcher Clay Buchholz, Gonzalez struck again by stroking a long fly to left to score the go-ahead run in the seventh.
Kevin Youkilis followed with a two-run shot off reliever Joba Chamberlain to pad the lead.
Boston needed every run as New York scored in the eighth and ninth, thanks to Curtis Granderson, to keep the crowd of 48,000 on the edge of their seats.
The win for Buchholz (4-3), with a save from Jonathan Papelbon, improved Boston to 18-20 and dropped the Yankees to 20-16. Colon slipped to 2-2.
“This is the toughest place mentally to pitch,” said Buchholz, “because you have all the fans out there and they all hate us.”
Youkilis said he was not surprised by Gonzalez’s contributions in his first game at the new Yankee Stadium.
“Adrian’s swing is good for any ballpark,” he said. “He’s just an all-around great hitter, a special hitter.”
Gonzalez, a Mexican-American who came to Boston in a trade with San Diego, said he anticipated getting an inside pitch to pull on his home run swing.
“I knew Bartolo was going to pitch me in,” said the 29-year-old first baseman.
“My gameplan was to pick my spots and look for a pitch middle-in. He left it more (toward the) middle than I think he wanted.”
Both the Yankees and Red Sox are playing catch-up to AL East leaders Tampa Bay, who beat Baltimore 3-0 on Friday to 23-15.
(additional reporting by Daniel Trotta)
Editing by Peter Rutherford