Jacoby Ellsbury wins it for Boston thanks to some table-setting by the bottom of the Sox order.
The free-swinging Pedro Ciriaco missed badly on a couple of pitches that weren't anywhere close to being strikes, then grounded an 0-2 pitch through the hole between short and third to reach with one out. Aviles followed by winning a long battle against Robertson with an infield single, bringing Jacoby Ellsbury to the plate.
Ellsbury delivered on his 29th birthday by lacing a single to right, and Ciriaco scored past an Ichiro throw to send the Sox home winners.
Mid 9th, 3-3: Nick Swisher tried to get something going for the Yankees in the top of the ninth, singling to right field before the much-faster Leo Nunez came on as a pinch-runner.
But Ryan Lavarnway was sure to show off his improved defensive skills by throwing out Nunez on an attempted steal with an absolute dart to second base.
Two pitches later, Sox closer Andrew Bailey sat A-Rod down on strikes and had the Boston bats clamoring for a walkoff rally.
End 8th, 3-3: The Red Sox go down in order to Yankees reliever David Robertson. Robertson, who attended the University of Alabama, strikes out Ryan Lavarnway, who (in case you missed it) went to Yale. A football game between the two schools would probably end up much the same. Or a baseball game. Or any sporting event, perhaps aside from crew and fencing.
To the ninth we go!
Mid 8th, 3-3: The Red Sox go the full Yale, as reliever Craig Breslow joins Eli batterymate Ryan Lavarnway. Did you know that they both went to Yale? Anyway, Breslow faces the minimum in the eighth. Andruw Jones gets on base with a walk, but then Breslow gets Jayson Nix to hit into an inning-ending double play.
End 7th, 3-3: It's bunt madness at Fenway Park. Ryan Kalish chops at a bunt and pops it high into the infield air. Amazingly, the ball drops in and gives Kalish a bunt single. Pedro Ciriaco then puts come backspin into his bunt, which trips up Yankess catcher Russell Martin. Hiroki Kuroda is pulled from the game after 6 1/3 innings.
Boone Logan comes in for the Yankees, then forgets to cover first, allowing Jacoby Ellsbury to reach first on a weak infield hit and the Red Sox to load the bases.
Big Joba Chamberlain settles the Red Sox down, however, as Daniel Nava and Dustin Pedroia can't get the ball out of the infield. The Sox and Yankees remain tied at 3-3 heading into the eighth inning.
Mid 7th, 3-3: Pedro Ciriaco makes a terrific scoop at third base, then throws out Russell Martin on a gunner to James Loney. Ichiro Suzuki comes in as a pinch-hitter, but Junichi Tazawa strikes him out.
End 6th, 3-3: Dustin Pedroia takes Hiroki Kuroda over the Green Monster. Pedroia's home run is his third hit of the night and his second RBI.
As an aside, the auto-complete on our NESN live blog had the headline "Red Sox Live Blog: Dustin Pedroia Ties Game at 3-3 With Homer Into Monster Seats" for a portion of our live blog of Sunday's game against the Blue Jays, so in keeping with our green initiative, we'll recycle the headline.
Mid 6th, Yankees 3-2: Jon Lester has broken two records tonight. On the plus side, Lester has now thrown the most strikeouts by a LHP in Red Sox history. He's also given up a career-high number of walks in a game. Lester's seventh walk to Curtis Granderson leads the inning. Lester later gives up a ground-rule double to Derek Jeter with men on second and third, yielding the lead to the Yankees. Manager Bobby Valentine then pulls Lester after 102 pitches.
Junichi Tazawa enters the game for the Red Sox and closes down the Yankees in the sixth, but the Red Sox fall behind for the second time tonight.
End 5th, Red Sox 2-1: Both pitchers are rolling through the lineups. Hiroki Kuroda has set down seven Red Sox batters in a row. Jon Lester faces Curtis Granderson to start the sixth inning.
Mid 5th, Red Sox 2-1: Jon Lester is now the all-time leader for strikeouts by a left-handed pitcher in Red Sox history. He ties Bruce Hurst for first place with a strikeout of Robinson Cano, then takes the all-time lead by striking out Steve Pearce for his 1,044th K.
End 4th, Red Sox 2-1: Hiroki Kuroda takes out the Red Sox in order in the bottom of the fourth. It's pure destruction. Not even a Yale degree can save Ryan Lavarnway from getting caught looking, while Ryan Kalish ends the frame swinging at air. It's to the fifth.
Mid 4th, Red Sox 2-1: Jon Lester has given up a career-high six walks in tonight's game after his free pass to Andruw Jones, but the Yankees fail to score. Pedro Ciriaco helps the cause with a great throw from third to take out Nick Swisher at first.
End 3rd, Red Sox 2-1: Pedro Ciriaco opens the inning with a double and gets a knock to third on a Mike Aviles groundout. Jacoby Ellsbury then picks up an RBI single and ties the game for the Red Sox. Dustin Pedroia then scores Ellsbury on his own RBI single.
Mid 3rd, Yankees 1-0: Lester gives up two walks, but then gets two strikeouts, so his karma is even in the inning. Pedro Ciriaco is up next for the Red Sox.
7:48 p.m.: In other news, Athletics pitcher Brandon McCarthy is out of the hospital after getting hit in the head by a line drive last week. While Brandon's release is great for his wife Amanda, his next request for a threesome met with her disapproval.
End 2nd, Yankees 1-0: Kuroda is locked in for the Yankees. The hurler sets down the Red Sox in order in the bottom of the second. A-Rod leads off for the Yankees in the top of the third.
Mid 2nd, Yankees 1-0: Jayson Nix, owner of baseball's most extraneous Y, hits a one-out double to left, then advances to third base on a groundout by Derek Jeter. Nix is stranded at third, however, after a pop-out by Nick Swisher.
End 1st, Yankees 1-0: Jacoby Ellsbury leads off with a double to right field, but Scott Podsednik's bunt attempt goes right into the glove of Yankees catcher Russell Martin. Dustin Pedroia adds a single, but cleanup batter James Loney hits into an inning-ending double play.
Mid 1st, Yankees 1-0: Jon Lester gets into trouble early and faces eight Yankees in the top of the first, but keeps the Yankees to one run. Lester throws three walks in the inning and gives up a double to Nick Swisher, but gets out of a bases-loaded jam when Curtis Granderson fouls out to first.
The Red Sox are behind early again, and they'll have to fight back against Hiroki Kuroda in the bottom of the first.
7:15 p.m.: Fenway Park pays tribute to the victims of the September 11 attacks with a poignant pregame ceremony. The Boston Fire Department capped the event with a stirring rendition of the national anthem. View highlights tonight on NESN Daily and take a look at this photo of the ceremony courtesy of the Red Sox.
6:45 p.m.: It's Jacoby Ellsbury's 29th birthday, and to celebrate he will be batting leadoff for the Sox.
Here are the night's lineups:
Jacoby Ellsbury, CF
Scott Podsednik, DH
Dustin Pedroia, 2B
James Loney, 1B
Cody Ross, LF
Ryan Lavarnway, C
Ryan Kalilsh, RF
Pedro Ciriaco, 3B
Mike Aviles, SS
Jon Lester, P
Derek Jeter, SS
Nick Swisher, RF
Alex Rodriguez, DH
Robinson Cano, 2B
Russell Martin, C
Steve Pearce, 1B
Curtis Granderson, CF
Andruw Jones, LF
Jayson Nix, 3B
Hiroki Kuroda, P
8 a.m. ET: The Boston Red Sox (63-78) may no longer be in the playoff hunt, but that doesn't mean they aren't playing meaningful games. In fact, the Red Sox have an opportunity to make September a miserable month for their biggest rival.
As the New York Yankees (79-61) come to town, the star-studded squad finds itself one game up in the American League East on a Baltimore Orioles team comprised largely of no-names and spare parts. Moreover, Baltimore is just a game ahead of Tampa Bay and a game and a half above Los Angeles in the wild card hunt, so if New York doesn't play well through the first week of October, missing the playoffs is a very real possibility.
The Red Sox, meanwhile, are in a total freefall, having lost 11 of their past 12 games. They have the exact same number of wins in September as the New England Patriots. That being said, there are still some individual performances that have given the Sox reason for optimism, and denting the playoff hopes of New York would go a long way toward righting the bad feelings of a lost season.
One of the recent bright spots for Boston has been Jon Lester (9-11, 4.99), who has looked to be on his way to returning to form after enduring — like the rest of the team — a very tough season. In five July starts, Lester allowed opposing hitters a 1.059 OPS, going 0-3. Since the calendar switched to August, however, Lester has yielded just a .659 OPS in 48 2/3 innings, going 4-3.
Opposing the southpaw will be arguably the Yankees' best starter on the 2012 campaign, Japanese import Hiroki Kuroda (13-10, 3.14). The right-hander has started three times against the Sox this season, posting a 3.74 ERA in 21 2/3 innings, winning one game and receiving two no decisions.
First pitch is schedule for 7:10 p.m. ET, but you can tune into NESN beginning at 6 p.m. for Red Sox First Pitch and the rest of your pregame lineup. Or just stick right here with NESN.com, we'll have the starting lineups and, as Vin Scully would say, "all the stats and stories" right here in our live blog leading up to the game.