After winning their first two games of the season, the Red Sox ran into a buzz saw Thursday night in Yankees starter Andy Pettitte, and as a result suffered a 4-2 loss, their first of the year.
Pettitte went eight strong innings, allowing just one run on eight hits while striking out three. Closer Mariano Rivera pitched the ninth and despite allowing a run, picked up his first save of his final season of a historic career.
Unlike the first two games of the series, the Yankees jumped out to an early lead, scoring three times in the first three innings off of Red Sox starter Ryan Dempster. New York got its runs on a two-run single from Lyle Overbay in the second, and then a lead-off, solo home run off the bat of Brett Gardner in the third.
The Red Sox cut into the lead in the seventh when Jackie Bradley Jr. just missed recording his first career home run with a double off the wall, scoring Will Middlebrooks, cutting the deficit to 3-1. The Yankees got the run back in the bottom half of the inning on a Francisco Cervelli solo home run off of reliever Clayton Mortensen.
Middlebrooks’ RBI groundout in the ninth accounted for the second Red Sox run, but that was all they could get off of Rivera/
Dempster, making his Red Sox debut, went five innings, allowing three runs on five hits. He struggled with his command at times, walking four, but did record eight strikeouts.
Boston took two-of-three from the Yankees and will travel to Toronto for a three-game series this weekend with the Blue Jays beginning Friday night (7 p.m., NESN).
What they’ll be saying: Although Dempster suffered the loss, the eight strikeouts were a good sign. Aside from his four walks, he showed good stuff demonstrated by the high strikeout total.
After not recording a hit in the first two games, Middlebrooks led the offense with two hits Thursday night … Despite the loss, the Red Sox won their first series of the year, which is something the team has not been able to say the past few seasons. Overall, it was an encouraging first series as the team got solid starting pitching and showed a new aggression offensively, which is something they will look to continue this weekend and the rest of the season.
Follow Red Sox reporter Ryan Hannable on Twitter @hannable84.