By Sean McAdam
CSNNE.com Red Sox Insider Follow @sean_mcadam
Alfredo Aceves almost never loses. Daniel Bard seldom fails to protect a late-inning lead.
But when both pitchers slipped up in the seventh inning Thursday night, it proved highly costly for the Red Sox, who lost to the New York Yankees, 4-2.
They were almost bailed out in the bottom of the ninth when the Red Sox loaded the bases, but Mariano Rivera got Adrian Gonzalez looking for the final out.
The setback moved the Yankees back to within a half-game of the first-place Sox, as the Yanks posted their first series win in five tries against Boston this season.
Dustin Pedroia's two-run homer into the center field bleachers had given the Red Sox a 2-1 lead in the bottom of the fourth, a lead they maintained with nine outs to go.
But Aceves, a former Yankee, issued a one-out walk, then hit rookie Jesus Montero, leaving two baserunnes for Bard. Russell Martin shot a line double to the bullpen wall in right, scoring both baserunners and Eduardo Nunez followed with a run-scoring single.
The loss was just the third in 26 career decisions for Aceves. Meanwhile, Bard, who entered the game with the most holds in the American League (31) had a rare stumble.
A.J. Burnett, in danger of pitching himself out of the Yankees' rotation, turned in his best start in weeks, allowing just two runs on five hits in 5 13 innings. Five New York relievers, capped by closer Mariano Rivera, held the Sox scoreless over the final 3 23 innings.
Jon Lester endured a brutal first inning in which he threw 43 pitches, though he allowed just one run. Lester didn't allow another, but because of his inflated pitch count early, was done after five innings.