NEW YORK -- This time, the Boston Red Sox didn't have to worry about Jon Lester getting embarrassed.
And the only message Adrian Gonzalez needed to send in Lester's defense was the two-run homer he provided in the first inning to help beat the New York Yankees 4-1 Saturday at Yankee Stadium.
Lester looked more like the pitcher Boston had counted on entering the season, rather than the one whose woeful performance on July 22 left him in the middle of the latest controversy in a calamitous season.
He limited the Yankees to one run on five hits in seven innings, shutting down their explosive offense in his second straight quality start.
Yankee killer Pedro Ciriaco went 4-for-4, giving him 15 hits in 29 at-bats against Boston's bitter rival.
"That has a good sound to it, another fine performance by Lester, it was," Red Sox manager Bobby Valentine said of his starter, who has won two in a row after dropping five straight. "His ball was moving in on both sides of the plate and he had a changeup and a curveball. He is a confident, aggressive, good-looking pitcher."
David Phelps (3-4) gave the Yankees his second straight strong start while filling in for injured lefty CC Sabathia. Phelps allowed three runs on seven hits in 6 2/3 innings for the Yankees, who lost for just the third time in their past 12 games.
Nick Swisher added three more hits after entering the game with home runs in four of his past five games. Curtis Granderson hit his 32nd home run of the season for the Yankees' lone run.
Swisher's hot spurt, which has included seven multi-hit games in his past 12, has upped his batting average to .272 and his on-base percentage to .352. The passionate fan favorite acknowledged his uncertain contract status next season has contributed to his recent hot streak.
"I just feel like I'm going out there and I've just kind of been thinking a lot. That word 'regret' kind of pops in my head," said Swisher, who reportedly might not be re-signed by the Yankees as they attempt to make some payroll restrictions. "That's the last thing I want to have. Regardless of whatever my situation is next year, I just want to enjoy this time I have now and just soak it up, see what happens.
"I've never gone through something like this," he added when asked a follow-up question about potential regrets. "I don't even really know what to think about, so I'm just trying to enjoy it, man, because this place has been so amazing to me."
The Red Sox have had a less-than-amazing time for most of this season and things came to a head after a Yahoo Sports report this week. Gonzalez, who reportedly texted Red Sox ownership to voice displeasure over Valentine leaving the starter in to give up 11 runs in his July 22 start, smacked his 14th home run of the season in the first inning in a more traditional form of support for his pitcher.
Gonzalez has denied elements of the Yahoo report. He agreed with owner John Henry's statement that the owner called the meeting while acknowledging some parts of the story, which detailed players' unrest with Valentine, were true.
"It was good to get runs," said Gonzalez, who indicated earlier in the week he no longer wanted to discuss the report. "Jon did an unbelievable job for us. That's the type of pitcher that he is."
Asked if he was upset about being left in the July 22 game, Lester said, "I pitch until he takes the ball out of my hand. That's all I can control." Asked the question again later, Lester repeated his initial answer.
Lester (7-10) entered Saturday's game with a 5.20 ERA after four straight seasons of posting double-digit wins and a sub-4.00 ERA. But after losing five straight, Lester has given up two runs in his last 13 innings.
"It's always gratifying to see the fruits of your labor, for lack of a better term," Lester said. "It's been a grinding season. I said back a month or so again, I'm not giving up. I'll keep working hard and things will turn. The past handful of starts, I feel like they have."
Andrew Bailey gave up a one-out single to Swisher in the eighth before giving way to Craig Breslow, who induced Robinson Cano to hit into a 3-6-3 double play to end the inning.
The Red Sox added a run in the ninth against Cody Eppley on a wild pitch, after Scott Podsednik singled and Ciriaco doubled.
Alfredo Aceves allowed a pinch-hit double to Eric Chavez to lead off the ninth but retired the next three batters to earn his 25th save of the season.
The Yankees were impressed by Lester's fastball command, cutter and ability to mix his pitches and he thwarted the few threats they provided. He gave up the homer to Granderson in the fourth to make it 2-1, but struck out Swisher with two outs to strand Ichiro Suzuki at third in the fifth, with the Yankees down 3-1.
The Red Sox had added a run in the fifth on an RBI double by Nick Punto that scored Ciriaco, who had singled with one out.
Ciriaco continued to amaze both sides with his prowess against the Yankees.
"He's gotten us all year," Yankees manager Joe Girardi said. "It's unbelievable."
NOTES: Yankees first baseman Mark Teixeira missed his second straight game with inflammation in his left wrist and manager Joe Girardi acknowledged he was "concerned" about whether Teixeira would get back to 100 percent. Girardi did not rule out a DL stint for Teixeira, who also sat out two games at the end of July and beginning of August due to the injury. ... Sabathia threw his scheduled bullpen Saturday and pronounced himself ready to return from the DL next Friday against the Indians. Girardi said he wants a little leeway though and won't yet make the official decision.... Red Sox left-hander Felix Doubront was placed on the 15-day disabled list retroactive to Aug. 10. Doubront had been resting since then due to left arm fatigue and a bruised right knee. He was replaced on the roster by first baseman Mauro Gomez, who was called up from Class AAA Pawtucket (R.I.). ... General manager Ben Cherington told reporters that left fielder Carl Crawford has not yet asked about having Tommy John surgery on his left elbow. Boston Globe beat writer Pete Abraham had tweeted earlier in the day a source told him Crawford would request permission to have the surgery next week. Cherington told reporters the decision would "be a lot more about Carl and less about where the team is."
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