Yankees 5, Red Sox 2

Left turn

Sabathia is finally able to defeat Sox

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By Peter Abraham
Globe Staff / August 31, 2011

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Barring a collapse, both teams will be in the playoffs a month from now, heading for what seems like an inevitable clash in the American League Championship Series.

But that drained not an ounce of passion from last night’s meeting between the Red Sox and Yankees at Fenway Park.

In a game that lasted a few seconds short of four hours and featured an excitable backup catcher nearly sparking a brawl, the Yankees came away with a 5-2 victory before a crowd of 37,773.

“It doesn’t matter what the situation is, this is a big rivalry,’’ Sox left fielder Carl Crawford said.

The Yankees had beaten the Sox only twice before this season and played like a team desperate to win. Pitching coach Larry Rothschild was ejected in the seventh inning and manager Joe Girardi in the ninth.

Girardi also left CC Sabathia in long enough to throw 128 pitches, two shy of his career high.

Sabathia (18-7) gave up two runs on 10 hits over six innings but also struck out 10 to beat the Sox for the first time in five tries this season. Four relievers helped secure the win with Mariano Rivera getting his 35th save.

The Sox got the tying run to the plate in the ninth with two outs but pinch hitter Josh Reddick lined to left. The Sox had 13 hits, drew four walks, and were hit twice but left 16 runners on base, nine in scoring position. They were 2 for 13 with runners in scoring position.

“We worked CC hard, we made throw a lot of pitches,’’ manager Terry Francona said. “But when he needed to, he made pitches. We stranded, certainly, a ton of runners. We had our chances.’’

John Lackey (12-10) went seven innings, allowing five runs (four earned) on seven hits and four walks. But it was his one hit batter that caused most of the excitement.

With the Yankees ahead, 3-2, in the fifth inning, Lackey fell behind No. 9 hitter Francisco Cervelli 3-and-1 and left an 88-mile per hour fastball over the plate.

“I didn’t want to walk him. Probably the only time I gave in all night,’’ Lackey said.

Cervelli drove the pitch over the Monster Seats for his second home run of the season and the third in 472 major league at-bats.

Cervelli smacked his hands together enthusiastically as he crossed the plate, something Lackey and catcher Jarrod Saltalamacchia took offense to. Lackey stared at Cervelli until he went into the dugout.

“He was pumped for that [third] home run of his career,’’ Lackey said. “I thought it was a little excessive, honestly.’’

Said Saltalamacchia: “He’s done a lot of that stuff. He likes to get excited. That’s fine. As far as the clapping goes, yeah, it could have been a little much. You don’t show anybody up. You play the game the way you play it. You’ve got to stay in your boundaries.’’

When Cervelli came up again in the seventh, Lackey’s first pitch hit him in the back. It was Cervelli who took umbrage this time and the benches briefly cleared.

Cervelli and Saltalamacchia had to separated.

“I don’t remember,’’ Cervelli said when asked what he and Saltalamacchia were saying. “A lot of Spanish, because at that moment, I forgot my English.’’

“Obviously it was heated,’’ Saltalamacchia said.

But no punches were exchanged, only words, with Sabathia being particularly vocal while pointing at Lackey.

“I didn’t like it,’’ said Sabathia, who said he was in the dugout for the at-bat when normally he would have been in the clubhouse.

Rothschild was ejected at the end of the dust-up.

Lackey claimed he didn’t intend to hit Cervelli, only knock him down.

“You can see where he stands in the box. You’ve got to get him off the plate a little bit,’’ said the righthander, who leads the majors with 17 hit batsmen. “I was definitely not trying to hit him, but I was definitely trying to move him back.

“I’ve been fined twice this year for hitting guys and I paid them because they were right. But this one? I’m not afraid to tell you if I was trying to hit somebody. I would have told him to his face.’’

The Yankees didn’t see it that way.

“[Cervelli] got drilled in the back after he hit a home run,’’ Girardi said.

“It looks a little weird,’’ said Cervelli, who came around to score in the inning.

Cervelli later pumped his fist wildly after reliever Boone Logan struck out Saltalamacchia and Darnell McDonald with the bases loaded to end the seventh.

“That’s Cervelli,’’ Cervelli said. “I never try to do anything to any hitter; it’s just me.’’

Eric Chavez, subbing for an injured Alex Rodriguez, had two RBI singles to help the Yankees go ahead, 3-0. Crawford homered and Marco Scutaro had an RBI double in the fourth inning for the Sox. They were otherwise shut out.

Peter Abraham can be reached at Follow him on Twitter @peteabe.

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