BOSTON (AP) — Excited Red Sox players poured from the dugout. Jacoby Ellsbury had a huge smile after his game-winning single. Pedro Ciriaco jumped for joy after sliding home with the deciding run.
And losing pitcher David Robertson walked slowly to the dugout after the New York Yankees missed a chance to keep sole possession of first place in the AL East, losing to Boston 4-3 on Tuesday night.
"That was a great feeling," said Ellsbury, who had four hits on his 29th birthday. "The fans were great tonight. They were into the game, energetic and we just want to keep putting on a show for them."
His hit provided a rare moment of celebration for the Red Sox, losers of 11 of 13 games and consigned to the role of trying to ruin the playoff chances of other teams in the division. On Tuesday they did it against their traditional rivals.
"With the Yankees in town, they're battling for a (playoff) spot and at this point we can just go out and try to play spoiler," left fielder Cody Ross said. "We don't care who we play. We just want to win."
The loss left the Yankees and Orioles tied with 79-62 records. Baltimore beat Tampa Bay 9-2 on Tuesday night. The Rays are two back in the division.
"You wouldn't be tied for first unless you found ways to win games throughout the course of 140-something games that we've played," Derek Jeter said. "So we've got to do it again."
But he knows the Red Sox would like to win the remaining two games of the series even if they are in last place.
"When you compete and you want to win, I don't care where you are in the standings," he said. "Especially when it's Red Sox-Yankees, guys want to play well."
Ciriaco has done that against the Yankees. He went 2 for 3 on Tuesday and is 17 for 35 in nine games in his career against New York, all with Boston this season.
"He was struggling a little bit, I heard, coming in, too," Yankees manager Joe Girardi said. "He hits a ball at his shoetops to lead off the ninth. I mean, he just finds a way against us."
That hit with one out found the hole and went into left field. Mike Aviles then singled between shortstop and third base. Jeter fielded the ball but held it as he had no chance to get either Ciriaco or Aviles. Then Ellsbury lined his decisive single to right field. Ichiro Suzuki fired the ball home, but Ciriaco slid in ahead of the tag by Russell Martin.
"Ciri and Mike did a good job of getting in scoring position," Ellsbury said. "I knew if I hit something to the outfield, Ciri's going to score with his speed."
Andrew Bailey (1-0) got the win after allowing one hit in one inning.