x Abu Dhabi, UAESunday 23 July 2017

Marathon win gives Yankees bigger lead

The New York Yankees moved four and a half games clear at the top of the American League East on Friday courtesy of a marathon 2-0 victory over the Boston Red Sox.

The New York Yankees moved four and a half games clear at the top of the American League East on Friday courtesy of a marathon 2-0 victory over the Boston Red Sox. The Yankees and Red Sox, baseball's most heated rivalry, used a combined 14 pitchers as the game went scoreless into the 15th. It was the longest scoreless match up between the teams and the first time since 1976 they had gone into extra innings without a run on the board.

The five-and-a-half-hour saga was brought to a close when Alex Rodriguez smashed a walk-off two-run homer into the Boston bullpen in the bottom of the 15th off the reliever Junichi Tazawa, who was making his major league debut. Rodriguez's 20th homer of the season ended a streak of 72 at bats without a home run, the longest drought of the veteran slugger's career. "I got a good pitch to hit and I hit it good," Rodriguez said. "We were all tired and all just wanted to go home.

"Both teams were remarkable, it was a heavyweight fight," added Rodriguez. "We were fortunate to get in the last punch." The New York starter, AJ Burnett, pitched into the eighth inning, allowing just one hit with six strikeouts and six walks. The Boston starter, Josh Beckett, went seven innings, allowing four hits with seven strikeouts and two walks. The Red Sox then used a total of seven relievers.

Tazawa (0-1), who was called up from the minors earlier in the day, came on in the 14th inning and was the last Boston pitcher available in the bullpen. The win was New York's fifth in a row. They also beat Boston on Thursday after losing all eight previous meetings this season. In other American League action, the Los Angeles Angels remain top of the AL West despite an 11-6 drubbing at the hands of the Texas Rangers.

* AP