BY RONALD BLUM
NEW YORK (AP) — The Yankees’ offense was asleep for seven innings and so was the sellout crowd. New York was about to get shut out for the second straight night and drop a season-high 5½ games behind first-place Boston.
Aaron Hicks woke everyone up with his bat, then made a rocket of a throw, preserving a ninth-inning lead with a double play that electrified fans and bailed out Aroldis Chapman in yet another Yankees-Red Sox thriller.
“We need to get as many wins as we can against these guys and just show that we’re willing to fight back,” Hicks said after his two-run homer sparked a five-run eighth inning that led the Yankees to a 5-4 win Friday. New York cut its AL East deficit to 3½ games and stopped Boston’s winning streak at eight.
Hanley Ramirez’s two-run, first-inning homer and Andrew Benintendi’s fifth-inning solo drive off Jaime Garcia built a 3-0 lead for Eduardo Rodriguez, who held the Yankees to two hits in six innings. Matt Barnes followed with a hitless seventh that extended the scoreless streak by Boston’s bullpen to 19 innings.
And then the drama began.
In the first of 10 games between the AL East rivals in 24 days, the Yankees sent 11 batters to the plate in the eighth. Pinch-hitter Brett Gardner was nicked on a foot by a pitch from Addison Reed (0-1), a call originally missed by plate umpire Fieldin Culbreth and overturned on video review.Didi Gregorius and Todd Frazier followed Hicks’ home run with RBI singles and Ronald Torreyes hit a sacrifice fly for a 5-3 lead.
And there was more.
Pitching for the first time since Saturday, Chapman walked Jackie Bradley Jr. on four pitches and Eduardo Nunez on five. He missed outside with a 100.6 mph fastball, and Benintendi — whose bases-loaded walk against Chapman gave Boston a July 14 win at Fenway Park — came to the plate as Dellin Betances warmed up.
Benintendi lofted on 0-2 pitch 327 feet to Hicks, just in front of the left-field warning track, and Bradley scored on the sacrifice fly. The strong-armed Hicks, who returned Thursday from a lengthy stay on the disabled list, made a one-hop throw to third base that was about 6 feet to the fair side of the base. Frazier made a backhand catch and swiped Nunez on the back as the former Yankee slid headfirst and reached for the base with his left arm.
“If it happened again tomorrow, I would take the chance tomorrow again,” said Nunez, a former Yankee acquired by Boston from San Francisco last month. “That’s how you play the game. That was a great throw. That was a great pick from Frazier and an amazing tag.”
Mitch Moreland flied out, giving Chapman his 15th save in 18 chances.
“If he’s safe right there,” Gardner said, “the next play’s a sacrifice fly and the game’s tied, right? Who knows how it would have played out. A game-changer on both sides of the ball.”
Boston and New York met while 1-2 in the division this late in the season for the first time since 2011.
Hicks, back from an oblique injury that sidelined him since June 25, hooked an inside slider high down the right-field line. He tried to will the drive fair.
“Of course, I’m talking the ball,” he said.
And what did he tell it?
That made it 3-2 and stopped the Yankees’ shutout streak at 16 innings.
Gary Sanchez singled, advanced on a wild pitch and Aaron Judge walked.
Joe Kelly relieved, Gregorius blooped an opposite-field hit to left that tied the score, and Frazier dropped a single into left, a ball he thought was going to reach the outfield.
Frazier, who is from New Jersey, thought back to his youth.
“I remember that excitement, coming to the ballpark and watching these games,” he said.
The Yankees drew 46,509 in their eighth home sellout, matching their total in each of the last two seasons. They had 16 in 2014, Derek Jeter’s final season.
Red Sox: 2B Dustin Pedroia could be headed to the DL for the third time this season. Pedroia’s left knee was too inflamed for him to play, two days after he went 0 for 4 as a DH at Tampa Bay in his first game since July 28. … LH David Price, who hasn’t pitched since July 22 because of left elbow inflammation, threw in the outfield from 120 feet, then threw more intensely from 60 feet on flat ground, including breaking balls.
Yankees: LHP CC Sabathia (right knee inflammation) hopes to miss just one turn. He was put on the 10-day Friday, a move retroactive to Wednesday, when he had cortisone, platelet rich plasma and Synvisc injections. LHP Jordan Montgomery was recalled from Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre and will take Sabathia’s turn Sunday. … 2B Starlin Castro (strained right hamstring) and 1B Greg Bird (right ankle surgery) are likely to start minor league injury rehabilitation assignments next week.
RHP Luis Severino (9-4) starts Saturday for the Yankees and LHP Drew Pomeranz (11-4) for the Red Sox. Severino has won four straight starts and is unbeaten in his last six outings. Pomeranz is 5-0 in his last eight starts.
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