BOSTON – The New York Yankees missed a chance for their second straight AL East title and wound up with a wild-card berth in the playoffs, completing a rare late-season fade with an 8-4 loss to the Boston Red Sox on Sunday.
The Yankees open the postseason at Minnesota on Wednesday, while Tampa Bay wins the AL East and starts at home against Texas.
New York was 66-37 at the start of play on Aug. 1 but went just 29-30 the rest of the way. It was just the third time the Yankees led through games of Labor Day and failed to finish first, according to STATS LLC. The others were in 1906 and 1944.
Entering Sunday, New York had a 4.66 ERA from Sept. 1 on, just 27th among the 30 major league teams, according to STATS.
The Yankees are going to the postseason for the 49th time — the fourth as a wild-card team. It's their 15th playoff appearance in 16 years.
The Yankees needed a victory and a Tampa Bay loss at Kansas City on Sunday to win the division, because had they finished tied the Rays had the tiebreaker advantage by virtue of its 10-8 record against New York in the season series.
Jed Lowrie homered twice, J.D. Drew also homered and Boston had two double-steals in the sixth inning.
John Lackey (14-11) struck out 10 in 7 2-3 innings for the Red Sox, who will miss the playoffs for the second time in eight years. They dropped from second place at 95-67 last season to third place at 89-73.
Robinson Cano's RBI single in the eighth inning made him the first Yankees second baseman with back-to-back 200-hit seasons.
Dustin Moseley (4-4) gave up four runs, five hits and two walks, striking out three in five innings for the Yankees. Nick Swisher homered and Mark Teixeira scored his major league-leading 113th run for New York.
Drew hit a two-run homer in the first, but the Yankees tied it on Swisher's solo homer in the second and an RBI single by Alex Rodriguez in the third. Lowrie hit a two-run drive in the fifth and Boston broke it open in the sixth.
David Ortiz bunted the ball toward third base against shifted infield and then was lifted for a pinch-runner; he was 3 for 3. Ortiz, who could become a free agent if the team declines his $12.5 million option, waved his helmet to the cheering fans on the way to the dugout and was brought back out for a curtain call.
After Bill Hall walked, Ryan Kalish singled in one run and the runners moved up on a double steal. Daniel Nava was intentionally walked to load the bases, then Hall scored on Lars Anderson's sacrifice fly. Kalish, who advanced to third on the sacrifice, stole home as part of a double steal with Nava.
Jason Varitek, the Red Sox captain who's also eligible for free agency, got a standing ovation before his eighth-inning at-bat, a 390-foot out to center field. He was sent up to catch the ninth inning but pulled to a big cheer before the first pitch.
NOTES: The crowd sang "Happy Birthday" to longtime Red Sox player and coach Johnny Pesky during the game. ... Lowrie homered in the regular-season finale for the second straight year. ... Kalish's home plate steal was Boston's first since Jacoby Ellsbury did it on April 26, 2009. ... Cleveland's Carlos Baerga was the last major-league second baseman to have consecutive 200-hit seasons, in 1992-93. ... Lackey allowed two earned runs on six hits and two walks. ... The Red Sox extended their Fenway Park sellout streak to 631 games since May 15, 2003.