NEW YORK -- A day after Dustin Pedroia all but demanded that his team improve its level of play, the Red Sox hung on for dear life and somehow pulled out an 8-6 victory over the Yankees on Saturday.
After blowing an early five-run lead -- the remains of which disappeared on Mark Teixeira's two-run homer off Vicente Padilla with two outs in the bottom of the eighth -- Boston pulled back ahead in the top of the ninth.
And if you want the truth, there was a little good fortune involved.
Jacoby Ellsbury started the winning rally off Yankees closer Rafael Soriano with a one-out walk. Pedro Ciriaco came through with the big hit, an RBI triple to center that Curtis Granderson -- normally an above-average fielder -- stumbled while trying to catch.
"Yeah, we were good tonight, and we were lucky," said Red Sox manager Bobby Valentine. "On Pedro's ball, he hit that ball, a knuckleball and hit it 380 feet. That's tough to catch. He's pretty hot right now, so I'd say he was good and we were lucky."
It was the third hit of the day for Ciriaco.
"I broke in for it first. I didn't think it was hit as hard as it was. By the time I tried to go back on it, I couldn't seem to get enough speed going to get back to it," said Granderson.
Pedroia provided some insurance with a sacrifice fly.
"I thought we did a good job," Pedroia said. "It was a great win. We did some little things that were a big part of the ballgame. We played well. We've got to build on it and keep going."
At least for a day, manager Valentine's team righted itself. And if the team is going to go on the prolonged streak that Valentine projected Friday, it has to start somewhere.
The Red Sox are 50-51, 10 1/2 games behind the Yankees in the American League East and 5 1/2 off the pace in the Wild Card standings.
"This is a good team," Valentine said. "It's a good group of guys who believe that they're going to get on a run. It was great. It was great to win the game after getting tied in the eighth, that's for sure."
While Red Sox lefty Jon Lester didn't turn in a spectacular start, it was mostly a solid effort, and a big improvement from his last outing, when he was shelled for a career-high of 11 earned runs. He was forced to wait two hours, four minutes when rain delayed first pitch on Saturday.
However, Lester was left with a no-decision, leaving him winless in his last five starts.
"I'm real, real pleased with how I threw the ball," Lester said. "The biggest thing is we needed that game. Guys came back and kept fighting. That was big for us."
With Padilla on in relief in the eighth, pinch-hitter Raul Ibanez lined a single to right. Granderson hit two consecutive foul balls down the right-field line that just missed being home runs before striking out.
But Teixeira got the home run the Yankees needed, a two-run equalizer to right-center that sent the home crowd into a frenzy. It was also a home run that had a subplot, as Padilla and Teixeira have been vocal in recent weeks about their dislike for each other.
"It felt good," Teixeira said. "I just wanted to make sure it was fair. Balls have been hooking a lot tonight. Curtis hit a few that hooked, so I didn't want to waste a lot of energy running out of the box if that ball goes foul. It's been a long day. But it felt good."
With the offense struggling to score runs on this road trip without star slugger David Ortiz, Adrian Gonzalez took charge for Boston in this one.
The left-handed hitter smoked an RBI double and a three-run homer against Yankees ace CC Sabathia, giving the recently-struggling Lester some breathing room.
"Gonzo was really ready to play today," said Valentine. "He was determined, as was Pedey, as was this whole team. He swung the bat great tonight."
The Red Sox broke out quickly in this one. Ciriaco got things started in the first with a one-out single to right. Pedroia followed with a single to right. Up stepped Gonzalez, and he punched an RBI double to right. Will Middlebrooks gave Boston another big extra-base hit, walloping a two-out, two-run double to center that gave Lester a 3-0 lead before he even threw a pitch.
Lester was magnificent early, retiring the first eight batters he faced. Chris Stewart did tag the lefty for a solo homer with two outs in the third.
In the fifth, the top part of the order again sparked the Red Sox. Ciriaco produced the first hit, a two-out single to right. Pedroia walked. Again, it was Gonzalez coming through, this time with a three-run homer to right that gave Boston a commanding 6-1 lead.
"I was able to get to a fastball the first at-bat and hit the double, and then the home run," Gonzalez said. "A 320-foot popup in the gap that gets out. It's all Yankee Stadium. I'm just glad we're playing here and not Fenway."
But that shot by Gonzalez proved not to be enough. Lester opened the bottom of the fifth by walking Andruw Jones. Then he gave up a two-run homer to right to Jayson Nix, and New York was back in striking distance at 6-3. Russell Martin followed with a walk and Ichiro Suzuki singled. With one out, Derek Jeter made it a two-run game with a fielder's choice grounder.
On a day momentum swung wildly, the Red Sox did what they set out to accomplish.
"We need to win games," Ciriaco said. "Everything is about winning here. We try hard today and get a win, and that's a big win for us."