Kiner-Falefa helps Yankees pass Red Sox. to squeeze

BOSTON – Isiah Kiner-Falefa led the lead with a safety pinch in the ninth inning and hit his first career homer with New York, leading the AL East-leading Yankees past the Red Sox 3-2 on Saturday night for just their second win in 10 matches.

It was manager Aaron Boone’s 400th win with the Yankees.

“It feels good to get through with the big homer and the small ball,” Kiner-Falefa said. “I showed both sides of my game. I was just happy to come out with the win, we’ve been playing a lot of close games lately.”

Alex Verdugo had two basehits for Boston, which had won its last two games, including a dramatic 3-2 win over New York in 10 innings on Friday-evening.

Andrew Benintendi secured the winning New York rally with an one-out double from the wall in midfield against John Schreiber (3-2). Jose Trevino reached on an infield hit before Kiner-Falefa put down a perfect bunt towards first base on the next pitch, with Benintendi scoring on a headfirst slide.

“The stadium went wild. I thought he was out,” he said of the bunt. “I was like, ‘Oh man.’ I was thinking in my head. I looked in the dugout and they are waiting for the party.”

Aroldis Chapman (1-3) retired the side for the win. Scott Effross worked a rocky ninth for his second save.

“Well done,” Boone said of Effross. “Nothing is easy for us right now. We’re going to get through it, kind of those gut feeling wins.”

Reese McGuire and Tommy Pham had consecutive singles for Boston with one out in the ninth. But Rafael Devers bounced on a fielder’s choice and Xander Bogaerts popped out.

Benintendi also nosed into the left in his second game back at Fenway Park since being traded by the Red Sox in February 2021.

Yankees slugger Aaron Judge went 0 for 2 with two walks a night after hitting his 46th Major League home run. In his previous five games, he had reached base at least three times.

Trailing 2-0, the Yankees tied the score in the fifth when Kiner-Falefa drove in Benintendi with a shot to the left. Kiner-Falefa is in his first season with New York after being acquired in March in a trade with Minnesota.

“They gave it to me,” he said of the home run ball. “The kids asked for a referee ball. So I did. Who wouldn’t want a referee ball? So I gave it to them. It’s pretty cool. My first pinstripe home run.”

The Red Sox had jumped up front in the fourth when Jarren Duran was hit on the back leg by a pitch with the bases loaded and McGuire followed with a sacrifice fly.

FOR STARTERS

Yankees righthander Frankie Montas made his second start since being acquired from Oakland on the trade deadline, giving up five hits, striking out four and walking in five innings.

Kutter Crawford of Boston gave up two hits, struckout five and walked in six innings.

“He was really good,” Red Sox manager Alex Cora said of Crawford. “Six innings, two runs, good mix of pitches.”

IT’S TIME

Cora is behind three other teams on the hunt for the AL’s latest wildcard and knows his club must be on the run quickly.

“It’s a sprint now. It’s not a marathon,” he said before the race.

SOX SWITCH

Boston recalled right-handed Jeurys Familia from Triple-A Worcester and optional right-handed Kaleb Ort.

TRAINERS ROOM

Yankees: Boone said OF Giancarlo Stanton (left Achilles tendonitis) was working Saturday at Yankee Stadium after he “stepped up a bit more” on Friday. Boone said the next step is “a full pregame workout” in the next day or two and then a drug habit.

Red Stockings: Cora said 2B Trevor Story (right-hand man) is “joining us on our way to take BP.” … INF/OF Kiké Hernández (right hip flexor) and OF Rob Refsnyder (right knee sprain) are both on rehab assignment with Double-A Portland.

NEXT ONE

Yankees righthander Jameson Taillon (11-2, 3.95 ERA) is scheduled to start the series finale on Sunday-evening. Cora then said right-handed Michael Wacha (6-1, 2.69 ERA) will come from the IL to start for Boston. He has been sidelined since the beginning of July with a right shoulder inflammation.

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