Jon Lester, bullpen help Red Sox eke out four-game split with Yanks, winning 2-1 in finale

Jon Lester received key help from relievers Daniel Bard and Jonathan Papelbon in ending his career-worst four-game skid, Jacoby Ellsbury tied a team record with four steals and the Boston Red Sox beat the New York Yankees 2-1 Monday to salvage a series split.

Boston took the finale of the wraparound series that had four different start times because of national TV demands. The win ensured the third-place Red Sox remained six games behind AL East-leading New York, their standing when the set began.

Lester (12-7) didn't give up a hit until Austin Kearns singled with one out in the fifth inning, and was lifted for Bard with the bases loaded and one out in the seventh — and Derek Jeter and Nick Swisher due up.

Bard pumped six pitches past the Yankees Nos. 1 and 2 hitters, reaching 99 mph several times while striking them out.

Mark Teixeira hit one of those fastballs from Bard in the eighth inning into the second deck for his 26th home run and Alex Rodriguez followed with a single to awaken the crowd of 49,476. But after an out and a walk to Jorge Posada, Bard got pinch-hitter Lance Berkman on a popup to shallow left.

Papelbon came on and silenced the harsh Bronx reception by inducing Kearns into a groundout to second base.

Papelbon walked Jeter with one out in the ninth, and the Yankees captain stole second. But the Boston closer struck out Swisher and Teixeira — he's 0 for 9 against Papelbon — for his 28th save in 33 chances, preserving a crucial win for the Red Sox.

The Yankees went 3-4 on their homestand. They head to Texas for a showdown between first-place teams.

Lester had not won since July 9, and the Red Sox scored just five runs while he was in the game in his last five starts, including Monday. Two runs were enough on the hot, sticky day because Lester gave up just four hits and three walks in 6 1-3 innings. He struck out six.

Ellsbury ended his slide, too, getting his first hit in 17 at-bats since coming off the disabled list on Aug. 4. Dropped to the ninth spot in the order after leading off in his first 13 games this season, he had one of three straight singles in a two-run second and matched the single-game Red Sox record for stolen bases set by Jerry Remy.

The Red Sox scored against Phil Hughes (13-5) without hitting the ball hard. After Swisher made a sliding catch down the right-field line on Mike Lowell's fly ball, Ryan Kalish singled, stole second and advanced to third on catcher Posada's errant throw. Bill Hall drove him in with an infield single and Ellsbury singled just out of the reach of a leaping Jeter and stole second.

Marco Scutaro walked to load the bases and J.D. Drew hit an RBI groundout that second baseman Robinson Cano lunged to grab in the hole between first and second.

Hughes was as tough as Lester after that, limiting the Red Sox to just one more hit in his six innings. Hughes gave up six hits, walked one and struck out three.

NOTES: Jeter went a 46th straight game without an error, matching his career best, according to the Elias Sports Bureau. ... Yankees RHP A.J. Burnett (back) said he was feeling much better and is confident he'll start Tuesday at Texas. ... Yankees LHP Andy Pettitte (left groin) threw 20 pitches in the bullpen. "I felt good. I pushed it. I'm going to throw a simulated game in Tampa Thursday or Friday." ... The Red Sox signed their sixth-round pick from June's draft, OF Kendrick Perkins, of La Porte High School in Texas.

(This version CORRECTS Red Sox 2, Yankees 1. Corrects to pinch-hitter Lance Berkman in 5th paragraph.)