Ichiro Suzuki scored on a Brandon Workman wild pitch with two outs in the bottom of the ninth inning, giving the New York Yankees a 4-3 win over the Boston Red Sox to avert a four-game series sweep at the hands of their AL East rivals.
Boston had tied the contest at 3-3 when Will Middlebrooks homered off Mariano Rivera (5-2), making an unsuccessful bid at a two-inning save, in the top of the ninth. Suzuki singled off Workman (5-3) with one out in New York's half of the frame, however, and stole second before moving up another base on Vernon Wells' flyout.
With Alfonso Soriano at the plate, Workman's offering skipped by catcher Jarrod Saltalamacchia as Suzuki raced home with the deciding run.
"I just kind of threw [the game] away, literally, today," said Workman. "But that's what happened, and I'll move on from that."
Robinson Cano went 3-for-4 with a two-run double and Suzuki finished 2-for-5 with two runs scored for the Yankees. Hiroki Kuroda worked six innings for New York, holding a Boston offense that racked up 34 runs in taking the first three meetings of this set to two runs on five hits.
"We've had some pretty tough games in the last few days and you want to finish your homestand right before we go on this important road trip," said Yankees manager Joe Girardi, whose club remained 2 1/2 games behind Tampa Bay for the AL's second wild card berth.
Jon Lester pitched effectively for Boston, which saw a five-game win streak come to an end, permitting three runs while scattering 10 hits over eight innings. Middlebrooks and Mike Carp each had two hits and an RBI in the setback.
Rivera worked around a one-out single by Carp in the eighth to protect the Yankees' 3-2 lead, but Middlebrooks got hold of a cutter and took it the other way to start the ninth, with the ball landing about four rows into the right- field seats. It was his seventh blown save of the season and second of the series, as the Red Sox also reached him for a ninth-inning run in Thursday's opener before winning in 10.
"When the ball went in the air I said, 'well, that's a pop-up'," said Rivera of Middlebrooks' shot. "It was a pop-up, but it went out."
The teams were deadlocked at 1-1 through 4 1/2 innings before the Yankees reached Lester for four hits in the bottom of the fifth, none bigger than Cano's two-out, bases-loaded double to left that sent his team in front. New York had filled the sacks on consecutive singles by Chris Stewart, Suzuki and Wells.
Boston got a run back in the sixth, with David Ortiz doubling to begin the frame and crossing the plate on two straight groundouts from Carp and Saltalamacchia.
The Red Sox opened the scoring on back-to-back doubles from Ortiz and Carp in the second, but managed just two hits off Kuroda over the next three innings and the Yankees drew even in the fourth.
Alex Rodriguez kept the inning alive with a two-out single and Mark Reynolds followed with a deep drive that bounced off the top of the center-field wall for a double that knotted the score at 1-1.
Stewart's single in the fifth snapped an 0-for-23 skid, though he left the game an inning later with a bruised left foot ... Kuroda entered the game 0-3 with a 7.43 ERA over his last four starts and hasn't won since an Aug. 12 decision against the Angels ... Rodriguez ended 2-for-3 ... The teams will square off again in a three-game series at Fenway Park next weekend.