BOSTON - Credit the Red Sox, down eight runs with two outs and no one on in the bottom of the sixth inning, for making a game of it.
The Yankees were more than glad to do just that, secure in this bottom line:
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They left Fenway Park Sunday night as one of baseball's hottest teams, having completed a three-game sweep of the Red Sox with an 8-5 victory in front of 33,198.
Many of those had exited when things got most dramatic -- David Ortiz against Andrew Miller with the bases loaded and two outs in the bottom of the ninth -- and even a little heated, the result of two hit batsmen.
The AL East-leading Yankees (16-9), who received a two-run homer from Mark Teixeira and a three-run shot from Brett Gardner, have won 13 of their last 16 games, putting their 3-6 start in the rearview mirror.
After executing their first Fenway sweep of a series of at least three games since Aug. 18-21, 2006 (five games), the Yankees will begin a three-game series Monday night in Toronto.
"It's not easy to do," Joe Girardi said of sweeping the Red Sox at Fenway Park. "This is a tough place to play."
The Yankees, who had 14 hits -- including four by Jacoby Ellsbury, who reached base six times and lifted his average to .351 -- knocked out Joe Kelly after 42/3 innings and took an 8-0 lead into the bottom of the sixth.
Boston fans began streaming out of Fenway after Gardner's blast but, as he said: "You never have enough runs in this ballpark."
Adam Warren, who allowed one hit through the first five innings, retired the first two batters in the sixth, but by the time the inning was over, the Red Sox (12-13) had sent 10 to the plate, including the potential tying run.
Dustin Pedroia started the rally with a single and Ortiz brought him in with a double off the Green Monster. Warren then hit Hanley Ramirez in the left hip, and Ramirez responded by gesturing and yelling at him.
"There was no intent there," Warren said. "I was a little confused why he reacted like that."
Boston righthander Edward Mujica appeared to retaliate with one out in the eighth, hitting Ellsbury -- who is 19-for- his-last-40 at the plate -- in the right hip with his 3-and-0 pitch. That brought a warning to both teams by umpire Jeff Nelson and prompted CC Sabathia to leave the Yankees' dugout to shout and glare at Mujica.
"I thought they hit Jacoby on purpose, yes," Sabathia said.
Mujica threw two pitches inside and one outside before hitting Ellsbury with his fourth one, a 90-mph fastball. "I don't know why he [Ramirez] got all riled up in the first place," Ellsbury said.
He did not think about charging the mound. "I don't need to get thrown out," Ellsbury said. "It didn't hurt anyways. I didn't feel it. It was a great win for us. Obviously, this rivalry gets heated up. I've been a part of it for eight years now."
After Ramirez was hit, Pablo Sandoval singled to make it 8-2. Girardi had seen enough, calling on long man Esmil Rogers to face Mike Napoli. The first baseman, hitting .160 with one homer and four RBIs in a rough start to the year, skied a 0-and-1 pitch just over the Green Monster for a three-run homer to make it 8-5.
Daniel Nava walked and Xander Bogaerts reached on an infield single, bringing Blake Swihart to the plate as the tying run, but Rogers struck out the rookie catcher to end the inning.
Rogers retired the first two batters of the seventh before giving way to lefthander Justin Wilson, who retired Ortiz on a lineout to left. Gardner, whose three-run shot off lefty Craig Breslow in the sixth made it 8-0, charged in to make a diving catch.
With Dellin Betances unavailable after pitching the previous two games, Wilson started the eighth and allowed a leadoff single to Ramirez. After Wilson struck out Sandoval, David Carpenter got Napoli to ground into an inning-ending 6-4-3 double play on his first pitch.
Miller sandwiched a pair of walks around two strikeouts in the ninth, bringing Pedroia to the plate as the tying run with two outs. Chase Headley's error loaded the bases for Ortiz, who lined out to center just as the clock struck midnight.
"It wasn't ideal," said Miller, now 10-for-10 in saves. "He's [Ortiz] got a flare for the dramatic. The most impressive parts of his career has been what he's done in those situations. It's not how I drew it up."
Except, of course, the end result.