AP) — The Red Sox fan who brought a broom to Fenway Park to cheer Boston on to a sweep of the rival Yankees will have to wait one more day.
Still, he was lucky to have it on Saturday, using it to retrieve J.D. Martinez’s home run ball from the light stanchion above the Green Monster.
“It’s been a lot of fun pitching with these guys behind me,” said Nathan Eovaldi, who pitched eight scoreless innings to help the Red Sox beat New York for the third game in a row and expand their lead in the AL East to season-high 8½ games with a 4-1 victory.
“We’ve been able to score runs early in the ballgame, which makes it a little easier pitching,” said Eovaldi, who has pitched 15 shutout innings for Boston since he was acquired from Tampa Bay last month. “And the defense is amazing.”
Mitch Moreland started in place of hot-hitting Steve Pearce and hit a homer of his own, and Martinez hit his major league-leading 33rd of the year for the Red Sox, who go for a four-game sweep on Sunday night with David Price scheduled to face Masahiro Tanaka.
“This is a huge series for us,” said Eovaldi (5-4), who pitched eight innings of three-hit ball, striking out four and walking one.
“We’re going to be playing these guys a couple more times down the road. For us to take the first three games in the series is big,” he said. “Price is building off his last start, so hopefully we’re going to be able to take advantage.”
One night after Rick Porcello threw an 86-pitch, one-hit complete game, Eovaldi started with three no-hit innings and left after eight with a 4-0 lead. Closer Craig Kimbrel held on through a shaky ninth inning to send the Yankees to their season-high fourth straight loss.
“There’s no question that they’ve established themselves right now as the best team in this league,” New York manager Aaron Boone said. “That said, if you walk through our room right now, to a man, we know we can absolutely play with them. We know that when we’re at our best we can beat them. We acknowledge who they are right now. There’s no denying the season that they’re having.”
Down to their last strike against Kimbrel, the Yankees made it 4-1 on back-to-back doubles by Giancarlo Stanton and Didi Gregorius. A pair of walks loaded the bases before Greg Bird hit a routine fly for the final out.
The Yankees are missing Aaron Judge and Gary Sanchez, and they had to shuffle their rotation when J.A. Happ contracted hand, foot and mouth disease just as Sonny Gray was sent to the bullpen because of ineffectiveness.
Chance Adams was called up from Triple-A for his big league debut and took the loss despite allowing just three hits — two of them homers — for three runs. He walked one and struck out two in five innings.
“I was just trying to control the nerves and stuff,” he said.
Boston won the opener 15-7, a game that had 27 hits and seven homers. Porcello, Eovaldi, and Kimbrel held New York to six hits and two runs in the next 18 innings.
Pearce had all four of Boston’s homers in the first two games — three of them on Thursday night — but manager Alex Cora had Moreland back in the lineup at first base and he responded.
“Of course, Steve has been swinging the bat well,” Cora said. “Four home runs in two days, that’s amazing. But Mitch, he’s a good player.”
The Yankees acquired INF Giovanny Urshela from Toronto for cash. The 26-year-old was traded from Cleveland to the Blue Jays in May. He was assigned to Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre. The Yankes also got pitcher George Kontos from Cleveland for cash, and assigned him to Triple-A. He was 2-3 with one save and a 4.68 ERA for Pittsburgh and the Indians this season. The 33-year-old made his major league debut with the Yankees in 2011.
A day after some inside pitching led to warnings and Cora’s ejection — the first of his managerial career — Eovaldi put his first pitch to Stanton in the first behind the batter’s head. There was no further hubbub.
Yankees: Judge is expecting to start swinging a bat “soon,” with a goal of returning to the lineup in three weeks.
Red Sox: Put newly acquired 2B Ian Kinsler on the 10-day disabled list with a left hamstring strain. INF Tony Renada was called up from Triple-A to replace him, and 2B Dustin Pedroia was moved to the 60-day DL to create a spot on the 40-man roster. … SS Xander Bogaerts returned to the starting lineup for the first time since he was hit on the hand with a pitch on Tuesday.
Yankees: Tanaka (9-2) will try to keep the Yankees from being swept for the second time all season.
Red Sox: Price (11-6) allowed one run in eight innings against Philadelphia in his last start.