NEW YORK -- Tyler Austin's late home run delayed a potential Red Sox celebration while keeping his club alive in the playoff chase for at least one more evening, as the rookie's two-run shot lifted the Yankees to a 6-4 victory on Tuesday at Yankee Stadium.
Austin helped snap Boston's 11-game winning streak with an opposite-field blast in the seventh inning off David Price, who surrendered six runs and once again continued to have difficulty with the Bombers' batting order.
"He's an unbelievable pitcher, and I happened to put a good swing on a ball tonight. Not taking anything else away than that," Austin said.
The Red Sox will try again to lock up the American League East on Wednesday, owning a magic number of one and needing just one win or a Blue Jays loss to clinch the division. The Red Sox (92-65) trail the Rangers (93-65) by a half-game in the race for home-field advantage, while the Yankees sit four games back of the second AL Wild Card spot.
"Once again we came back after being down tonight, and that shows the character of this ballclub, and really the pitching has allowed us to come back in certain ballgames," said Red Sox manager John Farrell. "We'll be back right here again tomorrow ready to start another [streak]."
AL Rookie of the Year Award candidate Gary Sanchez gave the Yanks a quick lead with his 20th homer, a two-run shot. Jacoby Ellsbury hit an RBI single in the fifth and Didi Gregorius added a solo homer, his 20th, in the sixth. Price surrendered 12 hits to tie his season high; in four starts against New York this season, the lefty is 1-3 with a 7.88 ERA.
Rookie right-hander Luis Cessa pitched well, holding Boston to two runs and five hits over six innings. The Red Sox tied the game in the seventh off Tommy Layne as Aaron Hill launched his first career pinch-hit home run and Dustin Pedroia punched a run-scoring single into right field.
"It's a tough lineup. I think it's the best in the league," Cessa said. "You need to execute the pitches and throw it down in the zone. For me, it's a really good night."
Tyler Clippard struck out David Ortiz with two men on in the ninth inning to record his second save. Playing his final series at Yankee Stadium, Ortiz finished 0-for-5 with two strikeouts and left seven runners on base.
"It's just how this game works. When you're out there, obviously you don't want those runners on," Clippard said. "You'd like to just go 1-2-3. As players, we relish those moments. I wouldn't have it any other way. If I'm going to get it done, I'd rather get it done against David Ortiz."
MOMENTS THAT MATTERED Roaring Twenties: Sanchez tied an 86-year-old record when he slugged his 20th homer of the season in the first inning off Price, doing so in his 51st Major League game and equaling a feat accomplished by Wally Berger of the 1930 Boston Braves. That blast gave the Yanks a quick lead, and Gregorius extended the advantage in the sixth when he lined his career-high 20th homer into the right-field seats off Price.
"I can tell you, Gary's meant as much to this team as any rookie in the big leagues this year, and he's only been here what, a month and a half?" Yankees manager Joe Girardi said. "That's how important he has been. I think [Tigers pitcher Michael] Fulmer's had a great year, but if I had a vote, it'd be for Gary." More >
Mookie turns two:Mookie Betts added to his season-long highlight reel in the sixth inning with another brilliant play in right field. With Starlin Castro on first, Chase Headley lined one to right and it looked like Betts lost the ball in the lights. From a sprawling position, Betts made the catch and quickly fired to first for the double play. It was the 14th assist of the season for Betts.
"It was tough," said Betts. "It was in the lights the whole way. So I just had to try and make an adjustment, and once I was able to catch it, I figured he saw me looking into the lights. I took a look and aired it out and it was able to get there in time." More >
Austin powers one: Austin's fourth big league homer came at a key time. The rookie has impressed the Yanks with his opposite-field power and he took advantage of Yankee Stadium's cozy dimensions off Price, drilling a shot into the seats in right field that traveled a Statcast-projected 347 feet. For Austin, the homer helped atone after Pedroia lined his run-scoring single past the diving first baseman in the top of the inning.
"His home runs have been big for us, the four that he has hit," Girardi said. "Just an outstanding night tonight." More >
Hill in a pinch: In 78 career plate appearances as a pinch-hitter, Hill had never homered. But that changed in the seventh inning on Tuesday, when the veteran clocked a 1-1 slider from Layne over the wall in left for a solo shot that slimmed New York's lead to 4-3. The Red Sox tied the game later in the inning on an RBI single by Pedroia.
"What do you guys want to talk to me about? I went 0-for-5. They got me out. They tricked me tonight. Too much talking between the pitcher and catcher. I'll trick them tomorrow." -- Ortiz
SOUND SMART WITH YOUR FRIENDS
Gregorius and Starlin Castro are the first pair of middle infielders in Yankees history to hit 20 homers or more in the same season.
Despite the loss, the Red Sox have won 16 of their last 20 and 19 of 25. They're 11-2 in their last 13 road games.
WHAT'S NEXT Red Sox: Right-hander Clay Buchholz will try to stay on his solid run when he pitches the middle game of this three-game series. First pitch is scheduled for 7:05 p.m. ET. Buchholz beat the Yankees at Fenway Park on Sept. 16, giving up seven hits and two runs over six innings. In his last six starts, Buchholz is 4-0 with a 3.09 ERA.
Yankees: Right-hander Bryan Mitchell will make his fifth start of the season on Wednesday, looking to snap a three-start winless streak. Mitchell held the Blue Jays to three runs (one earned) in six innings his last time out, but he was tagged with the loss. He is facing Boston for the second time this year. .