BOSTON - The formula responsible for the Yankees spending most of the season in first place, but seen only sporadically as they frittered away a big division lead, was back Tuesday night.
Build a lead by midgame with a solid outing by the starter and turn it over to one of the league's best bullpens.
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It resulted, though not without tense moments late, in a 3-1 victory over the Red Sox in front of 35,077 at Fenway Park. The Yankees (73-58) remained 11/2 games behind the Blue Jays.
The Yankees were mostly showered and dressed as they watched Ryan Goins' walk-off homer in the 10th lift Toronto past Cleveland.
"I'm not worrying about the race, we have a lot of games against them,'' said Dellin Betances, who threw 11/3 scoreless innings. "We just have to try to win. We can't focus on them. [Bullpen coach Gary] Tuck always tells me you don't look at the standings until mid-September.''
After six terrific innings by Michael Pineda, Justin Wilson (two-thirds of an inning) and Betances turned it over to Andrew Miller, who hit a batter with one out but pitched a scoreless ninth for his 29th save.
The Yankees' tag-team pitching overshadowed a brilliant outing by Rick Porcello, who came in 6-11 with a 5.47 ERA, but allowed three runs -- one earned -- and five hits in eight innings. He struck out a career-high 13.
Porcello took a 1-0 lead into the fifth before first baseman Travis Shaw committed an error on a Didi Gregorius grounder that should have ended the inning. It put two runners in scoring position and Stephen Drew came through with a two-run double that made it 2-1.
"It's really clutch for us,'' Joe Girardi said. "It got us in front and allowed us to go to our bullpen.''
Drew improved to 6-for-13 with five RBIs on the trip.
"For us, it's huge to capitalize on that especially in these types of games and the way he was pitching,'' Drew said.
Pineda, in his second start since coming off the disabled list, allowed one run and four hits in six innings. The righthander, who had lost three straight, struck out seven and did not walk a batter. "Everything was working today,'' he said.
Pineda left with a 2-1 lead, replaced for the seventh by Wilson. He retired the first two batters before allowing a Brock Holt single, and in came Betances.
Brett Gardner's 14th homer, which wrapped around the Pesky Pole in right, gave Betances a 3-1 lead in the eighth.
Mookie Betts singled and, after Pablo Sandoval flied out, Xander Bogaerts singled.
With David Ortiz at the plate, both runners took off on Betances' 1-and-1 pitch. Ortiz swung and missed and Brian McCann threw to third, too late to get a sliding Betts. But Vic Carapazza ruled Betts came off the bag as Chase Headley held the tag on him, and called him out. A review confirmed the call, and Ortiz struck out to end the inning.
"It's a big play,'' Headley said. "David knows how to drive guys in. Big play for us to get a big out there and then Dellin finished the job.''
Notes & quotes:CC Sabathia (knee inflammation) will throw a bullpen Wednesday and a simulated game Friday. When he's ready to come off the DL, GM Brian Cashman said he'll return to the rotation . . . Among the eight Sept. 1 call-ups was outfielder Rico Noel, an .059 hitter at Scranton/Wilkes-Barre with 238 stolen bases in the minors.