NEW YORK -- Jacoby Ellsbury hit a go-ahead home run in the seventh inning and CC Sabathia struck out eight in his finest start of the season, leading the Yankees to a 2-1 victory over the Red Sox on Thursday evening at Yankee Stadium.
Ellsbury's fifth homer of the season came off Boston starter Eduardo Rodriguez, who otherwise held the Yankees' potent lineup in check for most of the night. The shot positioned Justin Wilson for the victory after a scoreless seventh, and Andrew Miller worked the ninth for his 24th save, but the Yanks were most thrilled about Sabathia's strong effort.
"CC pitched great," Ellsbury said. "I thought his velocity was up, his location, showing emotion out there. It was nice to see him pitch well, and then the bullpen came in and did a great job."
Bouncing back after experiencing symptoms of dehydration in his last start, Sabathia delivered the brand of outing that his club has been waiting for all season. Sabathia limited Boston to a run and three hits over six innings, fanning David Ortiz in a key spot to leave the bases loaded in the fifth inning.
"Hopefully, I can just keep building on this and take this into my next start, and give us a chance to win," Sabathia said.
MOMENTS THAT MATTERED CC whiffs Big Papi: Sabathia had his swing-and-miss stuff working in this one, and his biggest punchout came on a 94-mph fastball that he reared back to fire past Ortiz, leaving the bases loaded to end the fifth inning. Having battled through what he has called his most frustrating season, Sabathia clearly savored the moment, screaming and pumping his fist as he left the mound. More >
"I think it means a lot," Yankees manager Joe Girardi said. "As I've said all along, this is the guy that's been through this a lot, this time of year, and understands the magnitude of the games. I think it meant a lot."
Strong performance by E-Rod in loss: Facing one of the most accomplished lefties of the last decade-plus in Sabathia, Rodriguez more than held his own. The rookie went seven innings and held the Yankees to six hits and two runs while walking two and striking out five. However, Rodriguez made a costly mistake in the seventh, and Ellsbury deposited it into the second deck in right to put the Yankees in front.
"He pitched a very strong seven innings," said Red Sox manager John Farrell. "I thought he deserved better given the way he threw the baseball. I thought he got stronger as the night went on." More >
Ellsbury busts out: Ellsbury hasn't been able to approach his early-season magic of late, but he delivered the Yanks' biggest blow facing Rodriguez in the seventh, slugging his fifth home run of the year into the second deck in right field, giving New York a 2-1 lead. It was Ellsbury's second homer of the season off Rodriguez, who also served one up to the speedster on July 11.
"I thought [Sunday] in Chicago I swung the bat well," Ellsbury said. "The first game against Boston I put some good swings on it. But yeah, it's nice to put some good swings on balls and get results. Tonight for sure was a big hit, contributing to a win." More >
Shaw extends game in ninth:Travis Shaw continues to impress when he gets a chance to play for the Red Sox. Farrell called on the lefty to pinch-hit against Miller in the ninth, and Shaw dumped a two-out single to keep his team in the game. Though Mike Napoli is the starting first baseman for now, Shaw could get some more chances in the coming weeks.
"Miller has given up eight base hits all year to right-handers. He's wiped right-handers out," said Farrell. "Early in Spring Training this year, Travis took Miller deep. Lefties are hitting .260 or better against him. A couple of things came together. Travis, he's made a strong impression here in the at-bats he's gotten."
"He looked really, really good. Right from the get-go, he was hitting with all his pitches, he was pounding the zone. We obviously didn't score a lot of runs for him, and get him the win, but we're happy to win the series, and excited about the way he pitched, happy about that going forward." -- Brett Gardner, on Sabathia
The Red Sox successfully challenged a first-inning call on what was initially ruled as an infield hit for Chris Young, following a diving stop and throw by third baseman Pablo Sandoval. A review of one minute and four seconds showed that Sandoval's throw beat Young to first base. He was ruled out, ending the inning.
WHAT'S NEXT Red Sox: Righty Joe Kelly, who has struggled to get in any kind of a groove this season, opens a three-game series on Friday night in Detroit at 7:08 p.m. ET. Kelly has given up four runs or more in five of his last six starts. This is Kelly's first career start against the Tigers.
Yankees: The Yankees play the first of their 13 remaining games against the Blue Jays on Friday, welcoming Toronto to town for a three-game series. Right-hander Nathan Eovaldi (11-2, 4.30 ERA) gets the ball against knuckleballing right-hander R.A. Dickey (6-10, 4.06 ERA). First pitch is scheduled for 7:05 p.m. ET.