Kiké Hernández made sure to make his first hit in nearly two weeks count.
After not playing on Thursday or Friday, Hernández came into the weekend in the midst of an 0-for-21 slump and was dropped to seventh in Alex Cora’s lineup as a result.
In the eighth inning of a 3-3 game Friday night, Hernández came to the plate for the fourth time with two outs and Rafael Devers at first following a leadoff single with reliever Chad Green on the mound for New York.
On the fifth pitch he saw from Green — a 2-2, 95 mph fastball at the top of the zone — Hernández laced a go-ahead RBI double down the left field line that allowed a husting Devers to score all the way from first.
Hernández’s late-game heroics gave the Red Sox a 4-3 lead, but they were not done there.
Christian Vazquez followed with a run-scoring double of his won to drive in Hernández, while Bobby Dalbec put this one to bed by crushing a 453-foot two-run home run to deep center field.
Dalbec’s sixth homer of the season, which had an exit velocity of 115.6 mph to make it the hardest-hit ball of his career to this point, put the Red Sox up 7-3, which would go on to be Friday’s final score in the team’s series-clinching victory over the Yankees at Yankee Stadium.
Five straight hits in the sixth
Before the eighth-inning rally, Boston put up their first three runs of the night earlier in their half of the sixth.
There, five straight one-out hits courtesy of Alex Verdugo, Xander Bogaerts, Rafael Devers, Hunter Renfroe resulted in some serious offensive production, with Devers driving in a pair off Yankees starter Jameson Taillon on a two-run single and Gonzalez plating Devers on yet another run-scoring double off reliever Jonathan Loaisiga.
That little outburst gave the Sox a 3-2 lead going into the middle of the sixth inning.
Eduardo Rodriguez made his 11th start of the season for the Red Sox on Friday. The left-hander took a perfect game into the third inning before giving up back-to-back two-out singles, though nothing came of it.
The fourth inning, however, was a different story for Rodriguez, as he served up a two-run blast to Gleyber Torres to give the Yankees their first lead of the night at 2-0.
Rodriguez ran into some more trouble in the sixth when he issued a one-out walk to Aaron Judge and yielded a ground-rule double to Gio Urshela to put runners in scoring position. With Torres due to hit next for New York, Rodriguez’s outing came to a close.
Garrett Whitlock was deployed from the Red Sox bullpen to replace Rodriguez, and he allowed one of the runners he inherited to score on a sacrifice fly before ending the inning.
With that third run being charged to Rodriguez, the 28-year-old hurler finished the day having surrendered three earned runs on one walk and seven strikeouts over 5 1/3 innings of work on 88 pitches — 55 of which were strikes.
Able to lower his ERA on the season to 5.59 despite not being involved in the decision, his next start should come against the Astros back at Fenway Park on Thursday.
Whitlock and Ottavino impress against former organization
Whitlock, who the Red Sox selected from the Yankees in the 2020 Rule 5 Draft, came back out for the seventh inning after finishing things in the sixth.
Facing off against the team that selected him in the 18th round of the 2017 draft, the right-hander wound up facing the minimum three batters in the seventh by inducing an inning-ending double play off the bat of Gary Sanchez.
Adam Ottavino, meanwhile, had spent the previous two seasons with the Yankees prior to getting traded to the Red Sox over the winter.
In his first appearance at Yankee Stadium since that trade went down, the Brooklyn native continued the dominating run he has been on of late by sitting down the only three hitters he faced in order in the bottom half of the eighth.
Workman struggles with walks, which leads to Barnes closing it out
From there, the Sox had already jumped out to a late 7-3 lead and turned to Brandon Workman to wrap things up.
Workman, making his second appearance out of the Boston bullpen since re-joining the club on Thursday, got the first two outs of the ninth rather easily, but then proceeded to walk the next two Yankees who came to the plate.
That resulted in Cora making the call for closer Matt Barnes, who fanned the lone hitter he faced on five pitches to secure the 7-3 win for his side and notch his 14th save of the season.
With the 7-3 triumph, the Red Sox guarantee their first series victory in the Bronx since the 2018 ALDS. They also pick up their third straight win to improve to 35-23 and remain within a game of the Tampa Bay Rays for first place in the American League East.
Next up: Richards looks to complete the sweep
The Red Sox will send right-hander Garrett Richards to the hill on Sunday night as they look to complete the sweep against their divisional foes.
The Yankees will be going with fellow righty Domingo German as they look to avoid a three-game sweep.
First pitch Sunday is scheduled for 7:08 p.m. eastern time on ESPN.
(Picture of Kiké Hernández: Richard Schultz/Getty Images)