BOSTON (Reuters) - The Boston Red Sox climbed back from an early four-run deficit to beat archrivals the New York Yankees 9-7 in Major League Baseball’s 2010 opener on Sunday.
The Yankees, last season’s World Series champions, had been cruising after solo home runs from Jorge Posada and Curtis Granderson helped them to a 5-1 lead.
But Boston ate into the deficit as the pitch count for Yankees starter CC Sabathia mounted, and Dustin Pedroia’s two-run shot over Fenway Park’s “Green Monster” left field wall tied the score at 7-7 and shifted the momentum in the Red Sox favor.
“It was a very resilient game. We dug deep,” said Red Sox manager Terry Francona. “We were looking to win the game any way we could.”
The teams, playing their 2,065th game in one of the most famous rivalries in U.S. professional sports, took the field for their first night-time opener under clear skies at Boston’s Fenway Park on a stunning Easter Sunday.
The Yankees came out blazing with Posada and Granderson, in his first at-bat after being acquired from Detroit, smashing solo homers in the second inning.
Boston first baseman Kevin Youkilis scored in the bottom of the same inning but the Yankees put three more runs on the board in the fourth to make it 5-1.
Boston starter Josh Beckett was pulled from the game in the fifth. He threw 94 pitches in 4.2 innings, delivering three walks and just a solitary strikeout.
“They definitely picked me up today,” Beckett said.
“Any time you make a start and it doesn’t go the way you want, you still want the team to win. It speaks to the character of the team.”
The wheels came off for New York after Sabathia gave up just a single hit in the first four innings.
By the time Boston third baseman Adrian Beltre smashed a single to center field to score Youkilis in the sixth, the Red Sox were on level terms at 5-5 and Sabathia was sent to the showers.
Youkilis was key to the revival, posting two doubles and a triple as part of Boston’s 12-hit night.
“We all have faith in ourselves,” Youkilis said. “I was very impressed by a lot of guys battling.”
Shortly after Pedroia’s two-run shot had again brought Boston level at 7-7, the home team took the lead when a pitch from reliever Damaso Marte got past catcher Posada and Youkilis sprinted home from third base.
Boston tacked on another run in the bottom of the eighth, Pedroia’s single bringing home Mike Cameron.
Boston reliever Hideki Okajima was credited with the win and Jonathan Papelbon with the save. Park Chan-ho took the loss for the Yankees.