NEW YORK (AP) — With no safety net in the bullpen, the New York Yankees needed a big lead and a long outing from starter Nathan Eovaldi to feel comfortable Saturday.
That’s exactly what they got.
Eovaldi pitched eight effective innings, Didi Gregorius hit a three-run double and New York beat Boston 8-2 to hand struggling David Price his first loss in a Red Sox uniform.
With late-inning relievers Dellin Betances and Andrew Miller unavailable due to heavy workloads lately, Eovaldi gave the Yankees the deep outing they desperately needed.
“That was huge for us. You have those two big guys down, I think everybody in the ballpark knew that, so we needed him to come out and chew up some innings,” said slumping teammate Chase Headley, who had two hits and scored twice. “Just a huge start for him.”
One of the hardest throwers in baseball, Eovaldi (2-2) touched 100 mph with his fastball and fanned Jackie Bradley Jr. with a 99 mph heater in the seventh. The right-hander permitted six hits, struck out six and walked none while matching the longest start of his career.
Carlos Beltran added a two-run double for the last-place Yankees, who have won three of four following a six-game slide. The biggest reason for the recent turnaround has been pitching: New York has put together five straight quality starts for the first time since August 2013, and Yankees starters have a 1.24 ERA over 29 innings in the last four games.
“I feel like the starters feed off of each other,” Eovaldi said. “I was just trying to duplicate what they were able to do.”
And now, after getting swept in three games by their longtime rivals at Fenway Park last weekend, the Yankees will try to return the favor Sunday night.
“Big performance from Evo, and you want to build on it,” manager Joe Girardi said. “Everyone contributed, which was even better.”
After a wild finish Friday night that included Boston slugger David Ortiz and manager John Farrell getting ejected in the ninth inning, New York won this one with little drama.
Backup catcher Austin Romine had three hits from the No. 9 spot in the batting order, including a pair of RBI doubles. Gregorius broke a 1-all tie in the fourth when he reached down and hooked an 0-2 pitch from Price (4-1) into the right-field corner.
Beltran’s double to left, also on a two-strike pitch with two outs, made it 6-2 and chased Price in the fifth.
“It’s not like there’s a glaring deficiency or flaw in his delivery,” Farrell said. “It’s more the finishing action of the pitch.”
Price, who signed a $217 million contract in the offseason, had won a career-best nine consecutive decisions dating to Sept. 5, 2015, with Toronto.
The left-hander was 13-1 in his previous 17 starts — and 6-0 with a 2.01 ERA in his past eight outings at Yankee Stadium. But his velocity is down and he has a 6.75 ERA through seven starts with the Red Sox.
“I feel like the more velocity that you have, the more mistakes that you can get away with. Right now I’m not getting away with mistakes — or good pitches, for that matter,” Price said. “It’s been tough, for sure. But I know things are going to turn around.”
New York scored its most runs since putting up eight in Detroit on April 9.
Bradley homered for Boston, which had won nine of 12. He extended his hitting streak to a career-high 13 games, the longest current streak in the majors.
Red Sox: LHP Eduardo Rodriguez (right knee) is scheduled to pitch Sunday for Triple-A Pawtucket in what could be his final rehab start before joining the rotation.
Yankees: Aaron Hicks played center field in place of Jacoby Ellsbury, who strained a hip muscle Friday night and is expected to miss a few days. “Right now there’s no plan to put him on the disabled list,” Girardi said. … C Brian McCann was rested in favor of Romine.
HE COULDN’T TURN AWAY
Farrell on why he didn’t leave the dugout after he was ejected Friday night: “Great finish to a game,” he said. “I didn’t want to miss it.”
YOU GO FIRST
The team that’s scored first is 2-12 at Yankee Stadium this year.
Headley, Gregorius and Romine, the bottom three batters in New York’s lineup, went 7 for 11 with three doubles, three runs and five RBIs.
Red Sox: RHP Steven Wright (2-3, 1.67 ERA) starts the series finale when the teams play on Sunday night for the second consecutive week.
Yankees: RHP Luis Severino (0-4, 6.31) makes his 17th career start and sixth this season. Severino made his major league debut against Boston last August at Yankee Stadium, taking the loss despite yielding only one earned run and two hits in five innings. He gave up a solo homer to Ortiz.
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