By the time closer Rafael Soriano sealed a four-out save for his 37th of the season, the Orioles had already defeated the Rays, 3-2, so New York completed the evening tied once again with Baltimore for the top spot in the division.
Alex Rodriguez said that he glanced at the Orioles score sometime in the eighth inning, and though the Yankees would love to create some distance, Rodriguez isn't expecting the race to get any cushier the rest of the way.
"It's not going to," Rodriguez said. "You can count on this going down the stretch. We have to play the style of baseball that's going to pay dividends in the end."
Winning for just the eighth time in 21 games, the Yankees had major reason to be concerned in the eighth inning, as Derek Jeter was hobbled running out a double-play ball. But Jeter said that he can continue to play on the bone bruise in his left ankle and expects to talk his way into Thursday's lineup.
"I'll be fine," said Jeter, who has been nursing the injury since at least last week. "I'm not going to sit here and talk about it. My opinion is, you play or you don't play. If you play, why talk about it?"
Cano, who hit his career-high 30th homer off Boston starter Aaron Cook, said that he expects his double-play partner to be in action before long.
"That's one of the big guys in the lineup," Cano said. "I mean, that's the hottest guy on the team. That's the last guy you want to see going down, but hopefully he'll be in the lineup tomorrow."
David Phelps started for New York and picked up the victory with 5 2/3 innings of one-run, five-hit ball, making what could be his final turn through the rotation if Andy Pettitte is deemed ready to return.
"Whatever my role is going to be, I'm just going to go out and pitch," Phelps said. "I'll let that take care of itself."
Phelps permitted just James Loney's fourth-inning RBI single in a 93-pitch outing, walking one and striking out five. His biggest moment may have come in the fifth, pitching out of trouble after Jarrod Saltalamacchia's leadoff triple, and manager Joe Girardi lauded Phelps' aggressiveness with his fastball-curveball combination.
"He has the ability to do that," Girardi said. "He got a strikeout, a popup and then another out in the inning when Saltalamacchia led off with the triple. This kid can pitch. We've loved the job that he's done. Today, that was a big start for us."
Cook allowed three runs in five-plus innings, with the fourth inning seeing him serve up Granderson's solo blast and a two-run shot to Cano.
Granderson's second homer, his team-leading 37th, came in the seventh inning off Alfredo Aceves, marking Granderson's second multihomer game of the season -- also on April 19 vs. Minnesota, when he hit three homers.
Boston trimmed its deficit to two runs in the seventh, cracking through against the Yankees' bullpen.
Saltalamacchia stroked a one-out double against Cody Eppley and Daniel Nava scorched a double on the only pitch Boone Logan threw, setting up Mauro Gomez's pinch-hit RBI groundout off Joba Chamberlain.
Pinch-hitter Mike Aviles added a run-scoring double off Chamberlain, but Soriano entered to bail David Robertson out of the eighth inning by zipping a pitch past Cody Ross for a called third strike.
As the Yankees happily retreated to the dugout, an incensed Ross was ejected for arguing balls and strikes by home-plate umpire Alfonso Marquez, as was Boston manager Bobby Valentine.
"I really liked the way we kept coming back," Valentine said. "I didn't like the way Cody got thrown out and called out on the pitch."
The Red Sox had one last threat to ruin the Yankees' night in the ninth, as Saltalamacchia led off the inning with a solo homer, but Soriano locked down the final three outs and untucked his jersey to celebrate yet another victory the Yankees had to have.
"It's playoff baseball," Girardi said. "You're playing in the playoffs right now, basically. It's a good test for us."