NEW YORK -- It may be close to three months later, but the Yankees' 6-3 loss to the Red Sox on Friday night looked a lot like their last one to Boston.
In that contest, on May 18, Marcus Thames misplayed a fly ball in right field that helped the Red Sox score the go-ahead runs in the ninth inning. On Friday, Francisco Cervelli dropped an infield popup in the second inning, an error that led to three unearned runs for Boston -- the ultimate difference in the game.
After Adrian Beltre led off the frame with a double off Javier Vazquez, J.D. Drew popped to second. Mike Lowell then popped Vazquez's 1-1 pitch about a quarter of the way down the first-base line. Vazquez and Cervelli convened under the ball, with the catcher taking charge. The ball, however, came out of his glove and dropped to the turf, allowing Lowell to reach and Beltre to take third.
"I just dropped it. I opened my glove late, and I dropped it," said Cervelli. "If I catch that ball, [that's] another out, and maybe nothing happens."
Cervelli said that he called off Vazquez, adding, "You never let pitchers catch the fly ball."
Vazquez regretted not making the play himself, since he appeared to be in better position.
"I think I should have called it. I'm a pretty good fielder," Vazquez said. "I thought it was an easier play for me. Who knows how the game goes from there?"
Cervelli and Vazquez could both ponder how the game would have been different because of what happened following the error. Vazquez seemed to recover, striking out Ryan Kalish for the second out, but he walked Jed Lowrie and Jacoby Ellsbury to force in one run and served up a double to Marco Scutaro that plated two more.
By the time the inning was over, the Red Sox had batted around, scored three times and driven up Vazquez's pitch count.
Manager Joe Girardi knew that half-inning, when Boston rallied from a one-run deficit for a 4-2 lead with ace Clay Buchholz on the mound, was crucial.
"It led to three unearned runs, and we lost by three runs," Girardi said. "It's unfortunate that's what it turned into. Javy got the second out. He just couldn't seem to get the third out."
Lance Berkman may be new to this rivalry, but he knows how damaging plays like that can be in games matching a pair of contenders.
"A lot of times, in these games with teams that are evenly matched, it's a thing here or there," said Berkman, who added that he didn't think the play cost the Yankees the game. "You give a good team more outs, and it can definitely come back to cost you."
On Friday night, it cost the Yankees, just as it did so many months ago against their rivals up the coast.
"Someone's got to catch it," said Girardi. "That's the bottom line."
Tim Britton is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.