With Kimbrel struggling, Barnes earns save

With Kimbrel struggling, Barnes earns save

BOSTON -- It's never easy coming into a bases-loaded situation, but when it involves recording your first career save, it turns out to be fun.

Red Sox reliever Matt Barnes recorded the final out of the game by whiffing Mark Teixeira to highlight Boston's 5-3 win over the rival Yankees on Tuesday at Fenway Park.

"I don't know if I've ever had a [save]. If I did, it would probably be my freshman year at school -- maybe," Barnes said.

Red Sox closer Craig Kimbrel pitched for the first time since Thursday, coming into the ninth with a three-run lead. But a season-high four walks later, the Yankees trailed by just two before Barnes could close things out.

Kimbrel returned from his July 11 left knee surgery just three weeks later. But on Tuesday, he admitted his knee was a little sore. Kimbrel said some days are better than others.

"I wouldn't say it affected my performance, but it's something that I'll battle with. I'm still four weeks out of surgery. I'm good enough to pitch, I'm good enough to play, but it's not going to affect me each and every night."

Kimbrel said the four days of rest between appearances made no impact on Tuesday. But after throwing 36 pitches, he might need a couple days off.

"Some of the pitches I threw, they weren't that far off," said Kimbrel. "I feel like I threw some strikeout pitches, they just didn't swing at 'em. It's just one of those days."

Barnes said Kimbrel's outing was freakishly rare for the closer.

"I can't tell you the last time I've seen him do that," Barnes said. "Even before I got into pro ball, you'd kind of watch him being a baseball player, talk about how good guys are, how nasty their stuff is. Like I said, he is probably the best closer that the game has had in the last six or seven years. His numbers speak for it. What he's done speaks for it. That's one of those freak things that doesn't happen."

Red Sox manager John Farrell said Kimbrel was the sharpest he's been all year in Seattle during a four-out situation. But after he walked Jacoby Ellsbury on Tuesday, Farrell had no option but to take him out of the game.

"It looked like he started to not only labor, but started to spin off, run away from his arm," said Farrell. "We saw a number of fastballs left up to his arm side and tried to overcompensate, yanked some balls down and in. I can't say it was a result of the knee until talking to him further, but certainly the command was not there."

After Tuesday's triumphant one-out performance, Barnes has limited opposing batters to just two hits in 32 at-bats (.063) with two outs and runners in scoring position this season.

"I think that's the fourth time I've come in with the bases loaded this year," said Barnes. "It's sticking to a game plan and trying to execute pitches. You can't get caught up in what's going on around you or what's happening. You've got to focus on each pitch individually."

Deesha Thosar is a reporter for MLB.com based in Boston. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.