BOSTON -- Alex Rodriguez had already done enough damage by the time Red Sox manager John Farrell ran out to the mound with two outs in the seventh to confer with ace David Price on Sunday night at Fenway Park.
It wound up being a key sequence amid an eventual 8-7 win by the Red Sox that completed a three-game sweep against the Yankees.
Almost every time Farrell comes out for a visit, he makes a pitching change. But this was different. With the game tied, 6-6, all Farrell needed was a little assurance that the lefty, who wasn't in top form, still had enough to get a big out against Rodriguez.
Price talked Farrell into it, and then he got the job done.
"He asked me if I was going make three good pitches in that situation, and I told him, 'Absolutely,'" said Price. "I appreciate him leaving me out there in that situation against a guy who's hit the ball against me well twice that night, so it's good."
The at-bat went six pitches, before A-Rod pounded Price's cutter into the ground, and the over-shifted Dustin Pedroia fielded it behind the second-base bag and fired to first for an out that ended Price's night on 100 pitches.
In the two prior at-bats, Rodriguez had hammered a two-run homer and a two-run double.
"We're in a tie ballgame," said Farrell. "He had every right to go out for that seventh and his pitch count was still well in check. If there was a runner on, we're probably making a move there against Rodriguez. In that spot, we wanted to give him an opportunity to win, and you know what, it worked out."
It did work out, as Christian Vazquez hit a two-run homer in the bottom of the inning, putting the Red Sox on top for good. Price had given up eight hits and six runs, but he was on his way to improving to 4-0.
"I just didn't execute enough pitches, especially with runners on base and in scoring position," said Price. "Those guys, they're good. If you don't execute and leave a pitch up, they're going to hit it and hit it hard."
Price's first six starts for the Red Sox have been a little disjointed, as his 6.14 ERA indicates. He's had three dominant outings and three shaky ones.
In particular, Price has struggled at Fenway, giving up 27 hits and 21 earned runs over 22 2/3 innings. Before coming to the Red Sox, Price had almost always thrived in Boston, going 6-1 with a 1.95 ERA.
"I don't know if he's feeling like he's got to overthrow, but the pitches are elevated a little more than we're accustomed to seeing," said Farrell. "Five days ago in Atlanta, he was in the bottom of the strike zone so consistently. Tonight is a tough night to pitch. I think both starters had a difficult time with feel and grip of the baseball. I think when you look at his body of work to date in this ballpark, there's been more pitches elevated than we've typically seen, even on the road."
As you might expect, Price is confident he will make the necessary adjustments and he isn't reading too deeply into a small sample size.
"No, just execution," said Price. "I haven't executed in this ballpark as well as I know I'm capable of. That's frustrating, but it's something I can fix."
In the meantime, Price's team has taken over sole possession of first place in the American League East for the first time this season.
"The hitters are swinging the bats extremely well," said Price. "We're scoring a lot of early runs, it helps out those starting pitchers. We never feel like we're out of the game. It doesn't matter if we're down two or three runs, if it's late in the game we still feel like we can put up a lot of runs in bunches, and that's what those guys have done."
Ian Browne has covered the Red Sox for MLB.com since 2002. Read his blog, Brownie Points, and follow him on Twitter @IanMBrowne. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.