NEW YORK -- It was a traditional back-and-forth, homer-filled Red Sox-Yankees affair, and it brought the end of a protracted climb to .500 for the former.
The Red Sox came back from a three-run deficit to not only sweep the Yankees, but simultaneously ditch their losing record on Sunday night with a 7-5 win. Boston is 20-20, and to manager Terry Francona, "it actually feels good."
"That's what people expect us to do," said David Ortiz, who hit a broken-bat homer to Yankee Stadium's short porch in right and was a triple short of the cycle. "When you combine good hitting with good pitching, that's what you're supposed to get, right?"
No Red Sox team had taken this long to reach .500 since 1996, when the feat took 128 games. The Sox had four previous chances to even their record this season, the most recent six games ago.
Boston has dominated the Yankees in the early going, winning five of six meetings. The Yankees' Nos. 3-5 hitters -- Mark Teixeira, Alex Rodriguez and Robinson Cano -- were 6-for-34 in the series.
"It seemed like Boston came in here and did exactly what we do to other teams," said Rodriguez, who drove in a late run but also let one in with an error. "Keep at-bats alive, fouling off pitches, battling and getting big hits. And we're not doing it."
"We won -- I think they're happy about that," Francona said of his club. "We're going to go home now. It's not where we're shooting for, but we're coming. We're getting better."
Momentum in hand, the Red Sox will open a seven-game homestand on Monday against the Orioles.
The Sox hit three homers and the Yankees two, but it was Rodriguez's error that helped Boston to an insurance run and a 6-4 lead in the seventh. With a pair of runners on and one out, Rodriguez didn't drop his glove low enough, allowing the ball to roll between his legs and Dustin Pedroia to score from second.
That was the second unearned run of the night for the Sox, and it was needed in the bottom of the frame.
Left fielder Carl Crawford made his first error in a Red Sox uniform on a Rodriguez double to the left-field corner, allowing Curtis Granderson to score from first with two outs. That cut the lead to 6-5 and was the end of the night for Alfredo Aceves, who began the bottom of the seventh in relief of starter Jon Lester.
Daniel Bard, the Red Sox's any-inning man, fell behind Robinson Cano and intentionally walked him before striking out Nick Swisher to end the frame.
"I was just trying to get some weak contact there," Bard said. "Cano didn't chase, and we went right after Swisher."
Another Red Sox first came in the top of the eighth: Jarrod Saltalamacchia's first home run with the team, his first in two seasons and the first for any Red Sox catcher in 2011. That pushed the lead back to two runs.
On a 2-2 pitch from Joba Chamberlain, Saltalamacchia went for the porch just as Ortiz did, his drive clearing the wall by an even smaller margin. Saltalamacchia had last gone yard on Aug. 2, 2009, when he was with the Rangers.
"I didn't hit it great, but I hit it luckily to the right part of the ballpark," Saltalamacchia said. "To sweep a division rival and gain a game, that's what we want."
Closer Jonathan Papelbon notched his seventh save and second in three days after Bard's four-out relief performance. Jorge Posada, who pinch-hit to a standing ovation, drew a leadoff walk in the eighth.
"I heard the energy from the crowd," Bard said. "I think that's pretty cool that they're standing behind him. But I still wanted to get him out."
Lester went six innings and allowed four runs, settling in after the second inning. He struck out seven and allowed five hits and four walks on 109 pitches.
The left-hander has won five straight decisions, but he's also walked a combined nine in his last two outings.
"I don't think it really turned around," Lester said of his final four innings. "It was just one of those games, from pitch 1, I had to battle through."
Kevin Youkilis' seventh homer of the season and second of the series quickly rescued Lester after a three-run bottom of the second inning in which Andruw Jones' solo homer and Granderson's two-run shot put New York ahead, 4-1.
Youkilis' three-run shot to left, on a full-count fastball from Yankees starter Freddy Garcia, tied the game at 4 with one out in the third.
"I just got a fastball, inner half, and was fortunate to get a good piece of it," Youkilis said. "If we pitch the ball, well we're going to score runs. ... We've come a long way since 0-6, but we've still got a lot of work to do and still got a lot of season to play."