Francisco Cervelli, Derek Lowe make most of chance for Yankees

Francisco Cervelli scores the game-winning run in the Francisco Cervelli scores the game-winning run in the 12th inning of a game against the Boston Red Sox at Yankee Stadium. (Oct. 2, 2012) Photo Credit: Jim McIsaac

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Of all the memorable things to happen at Yankee Stadium Tuesday night -- a ninth-inning comeback, a 12th-inning bird delay, rain and mist throughout the evening -- the most improbable was the identity of the man who scored the winning run in the Yankees' 4-3, 12-inning victory over the Red Sox.

Francisco Cervelli.

Cervelli, the popular backup catcher who was the third Yankees backstop of the night, walked with two outs in the 12th in his first major-league plate appearance of the season. It was hit first time at-bat since Aug. 29 for Triple-A Scranton / Wilkes-Barre.

"Long time, huh," a beaming Cervelli said. "It makes my season.''

Cervelli entered the game in the 11th after manager Joe Girardi had used a pinch runner for Russell Martin in the eighth and a pinch hitter for Chris Stewart in the 10th.

After falling behind 0-and-2, Cervelli inexplicably was walked by lefthander Andrew Miller on four straight balls.

"I was looking for fastballs," Cervelli said. "I concentrated. Just got to get on base. Just don't try to do too much because I haven't played in a long time and don't try to be the hero."

Miller threw four more balls to Curtis Granderson before Raul Ibañez grounded the winning single to leftfield on an 0-and-1 pitch.

It was Ibañez who tied the score in the ninth with a pinch-hit, two-run home run off Red Sox closer Andrew Bailey.

"Ibañez right now is a killer," Cervelli said.

Cervelli scored with an awkward half-roll, half-slide. But as Joba Chamberlain put it, "It doesn't matter how you do it. You've just got to get it done."

Of the slide, Cervelli said: "I don't know. Saltalamacchia was in the middle of the plate. I thought they had a chance, a play at home plate . . . Let me tell you the truth, I don't know."

The bird delay came in the top of the 12th with eventual winning pitcher Derek Lowe on the mound, one out and a man on first. A small bird -- not an Oriole, sorry -- was walking around near Derek Jeter at shortstop.

A Yankees grounds crew member tried (and failed) several times to scoop up the bird with a large white bucket. Eventually, the bird was led to foul territory on the first-base side and play resumed.

On the next pitch, Lowe got Daniel Nava to ground a double-play ball right to Jeter. Right to the spot the bird had just vacated. Inning over.

"I've just got to give credit to Jeter," Lowe said. "He knew I was probably tired and needed a break, so he had the grounds crew come out and give me a minute break. Pretty cool."

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