Bronx, NY – Bronx, NY (Sports Network) - It took until the next-to-last day of the regular season, but the New York Yankees finally won a game in which they trailed after eight innings.
Raul Ibanez was the hero for New York, belting a pinch-hit, game-tying two-run homer in the bottom of the ninth inning and later driving in the deciding run with a single in the 12th as the Yankees rallied for a 4-3 victory over the Boston Red Sox and moved closer to capturing the American League East title.
New York, which entered the night 0-58 when down heading into the ninth inning, won for the third time in a row and maintained a one-game edge on Baltimore for first place heading into Wednesday's final slate of games. Either a Yankees' win in the finale or an Orioles' loss to Tampa Bay would give the Bronx Bombers the division crown.
If New York loses on Wednesday and the Orioles win, however, the two playoff- bound teams would face one another in Baltimore on Thursday to decide the AL East.
"It was awesome," said Ibanez afterward. "It's awesome to be a part of something like that and be able to contribute, especially during a time like this when we know we need those wins."
Onetime Red Sox hurler Derek Lowe (9-11) tossed two scoreless innings of relief to earn the win for New York, which prevailed despite stranding 14 runners on base. The Yankees outhit Boston by a 16-8 margin for the night.
Dustin Pedroia, playing with a recently fractured finger, went 2-for-5 with an RBI double in Boston's seventh straight defeat and 11th setback in 12 games. James Loney had a solo homer in the loss.
Ibanez's homer came with one out off Red Sox closer Andrew Bailey, who failed to protect a 3-1 lead in the ninth, while Andrew Miller (3-2) served up his game-sealing single.
Jon Lester limited the Yankees to one unearned run while scattering eight hits over the first five innings in his final 2012 start. David Phelps, replacing a struggling Ivan Nova in the New York rotation, allowed two runs and three hits in 5 1/3 innings of work.
After Curtis Granderson began New York's ninth-inning comeback by greeting Bailey with a single, Ibanez lined a 1-2 pitch into the right field seats for his fourth career pinch-hit home run and second this season.
"Lester threw a great ballgame and the bullpen did their job and I didn't, and that's it," said Bailey. "I let the team down. I made a bad pitch to Ibanez on a 1-2 count, left the ball over the middle. I've got to make better pitches."
The Yankees had an opportunity to end the game in regulation, loading the bases with one out on a Derek Jeter double and walks to Nick Swisher and Alex Rodriguez, but Boston's Mark Melancon came on to retire Mark Teixeira on a short pop fly to center before getting Robinson Cano to ground out to second.
Red Sox center fielder Jacoby Ellsbury later kept the score knotted in the bottom of the 11th, sprinting over to the wall in left center and snaring Rodriguez's deep fly for the final out with Swisher on first.
Boston couldn't prevent a final threat in the 12th, however. Miller issued back-to-back two-out walks to Francisco Cervelli and Granderson before Ibanez shot a ground ball through the left side of the infield to complete the come- from-behind win.
"He's such a professional," said Teixeira of Ibanez. "He is one of the nicest guys in baseball, one of the best teammates in baseball, so when you get a chance to see him come up big like this, it just makes everyone so happy."
Phelps did encounter some early difficulty in his first start since Sept. 19, as Ellsbury opened the game with a single and Pedroia followed with a double into the gap in right center to bring home the game's first run. The scrappy second baseman then moved to third on a groundout before scoring on Cody Ross' sacrifice fly for a quick 2-0 Boston lead.
The Yankees trimmed the deficit in half with an unearned run in the second. Granderson reached on an infield single and took second on Red Sox third baseman Pedro Ciriaco's throwing error, then stole third and came in on Eduardo Nunez's single off the glove of shortstop Jose Iglesias.
Lester kept Boston in front by working out of a couple of jams over his five- inning stint. The Yankees had runners at the corners with one out in both the first and third frames, but the left-hander induced double-play grounders from Teixeira on each occasion.
New York also threatened in the sixth, when Cano singled and went to third on Nunez's two-out double down the left field line. However, Boston reliever Rich Hill got Ichiro Suzuki to line out to maintain the Red Sox' advantage.
The game remained a one-run affair until the top of the ninth, when Loney reached the right field seats off Rafael Soriano for his second homer as a member of the Red Sox.
Boston is now an MLB-worst 7-25 since Aug. 28 ... Cano went 2-for-6 and is now batting .571 (20-for-35) with eight RBI during an eight-game hitting streak ... Lester finished the season with a 9-14 record and a career-high 4.82 earned run average after notching at least 15 wins in each of the last four years.