Four Real? Red Sox vs Yankees 8-18-13

Alex Rodriguez gets plunked by Ryan Dempster in the second inning of Sunday's game against the visiting Yankees.
A-Rod would get his revenge in the sixth, hitting a solo shot off Dempster. (Getty Images)

Jan-Christian Sorensen
Contributing Writer

They say revenge is a dish best served cold.

Or, In Alex Rodriguez’s case, an 89-mph fastball served up by Ryan Dempster.

After being booed lustily by the Fenway Faithful throughout Sunday night's game and getting plunked by Red Sox starter Dempster in the second inning, A-Rod licked his chops, tucked in and drove Dempster’s second pitch deep to center field in the sixth, setting the stage for a four-run inning that would be all the Yankees needed to grab a 9-6 victory in the rubber game of the weekend series.

A-Rod wasn’t the only course on the hit-by-pitch buffet menu Sunday — Boston pitchers also plunked Brett Gardner, Jayson Nix and Robinson Cano before the night was over.

Love him, hate him or simply don’t care about him, Rodriguez ultimately got the last laugh, going 3 for 4 with two RBI and two runs scored, while Dempster fell to 0-6 lifetime against New York, taking the loss to fall to 6-9 on the season after giving up seven runs on nine hits and walking one in 5.1 innings of work.

A shaky CC Sabathia was saved by the Yankees’ offensive corps and got the win, moving to 11-10 despite only going 5.1 innings and giving up six runs on seven hits while striking out five.

In total, the Yankees ripped 17 hits off Boston pitching. Gardner had the biggest night at the plate, lacing a bases-clearing triple off reliever Drake Britton in the sixth to drive in three runs for New York, but from beginning to end it was the A-Rod Extravaganza.

The much-maligned third baseman and poster boy for purported MLB drug cheats was front and center from start to finish: The boos. The cat-calls. The plunk. Then, a ground-out to drive in a run in the third. The solo homer in the sixth. A single in the seventh. Another single in the eighth.

One could compare it to the fateful game in 2004 when A-Rod was beaned by Bronson Arroyo and got into a donnybrook at the dish with Jason Varitek before the Sox ended up winning it on a Bill Mueller walkoff homer off Mariano Rivera. The big difference being that this particular occasion could instead serve as a rallying cry for the Yanks, who are desperately fighting to climb back into the both the AL East and wild-card races.

The Red Sox almost made it interesting in the ninth, down three runs and putting two men on with two out and Rivera on the hill, but the venerable Yankees closer still managed to use his seemingly ageless arsenal to induce Jarrod Saltalamacchia to line out to left to earn his 36th save of the season and lock down the win for New York.

Unfortunately, the loss came hot on the heels of a walkoff win by the Tampa Bay Rays against Toronto, which pulled the Rays to within a game of Boston’s tenuous hold on first place in the American League East.

Here are the four at-bats that changed the game:

1) Spare The A-Rod, Spoil The Child: Everybody knew it was coming. It was just a matter of who threw it, and how long it would take. When Dempster’s first pitch of the second inning was thrown behind A-Rod, everyone watching knew A-Rod was in the crosshairs. But it took Dempster three more tosses to actually make contact with A-Rod’s upper back, and when home plate umpire Brian O’Nora warned both benches and ejected understandably irate Yankees manager Joe Girardi, A-Rod both got his comeuppance and a free pass to first base.

2) The Tie That Binds: With the Yankees down 2-1 after Eduardo Nunez singled home Rodriguez in the same inning, Red Sox castoff Lyle Overbay laced a sacrifice fly to left field to cash in Curtis Granderson to tie the score 2-2.

3) Karma’s a Pitch, Dempster: In the sixth, Rodriguez issued a curt gag order to the Fenway boo-birds, ripping a long solo homer to center off Dempster to cut the Red Sox lead to 6-4. It was in keeping with a Dempster trend in 2013 — 19 of the 23 homers the veteran righty has surrendered this year have been of the solo variety.

4) The Constant Gardner: Same inning, and after singles by Nunez and Overbay and a walk to Chris Stewart, reliever Drake Britton served up a triple to Gardner, who cleared the bases with one stroke and gave the Yankees a 7-6 lead they wouldn’t relinquish.

While the Sox will toss and turn in their own Beantown beds Sunday night, early Monday the team flies out to San Francisco for the first of a three-game set against the Giants at AT&T Park. Jon Lester (10-7, 4.31 ERA) will face Tim Lincecum (6-12, 4.38 ERA) in Game One tonight, with first pitch set for 10:15 p.m. EST.

Twitter: @jan_doh