NEW YORK — There were bountiful empty seats at Yankee Stadium for Friday night’s game against the Red Sox, and it likely had little to do with the heavy rain that started falling in the first inning.
The best rivalry in baseball is bereft of much buzz these days. The Yankees are preparing for the postseason and the Red Sox for another tumultuous offseason. Their games are just another date crossed off the schedule.
“It’s a little different,” Yankees first baseman Nick Swisher said before the game. “They’re going through their problems and we’re just trying to do our thing. A different feeling, for sure.”
Swisher punched the clock with two of the five solo home runs hit by the Yankees as they beat the Red Sox, 6-4.
That’s seven losses in the last 10 games for the Sox, who trail their rivals by a whopping 13½ games in the American League East. The Yankees have taken seven of the 10 games between the teams this season.
The Sox took a 4-3 lead with four runs in the third inning then were held scoreless over the final six innings by Phil Hughes (12-10) and two relievers.
Yankees pitchers retired 13 of the final 14 Red Sox who came to the plate.
Franklin Morales has been a surprisingly effective starter for the Sox this season, just not against the Yankees.
The lefthander lasted 5⅓ innings, giving up five runs on six hits. Four were solo home runs. In two starts against the Yankees this season, Morales has allowed 11 earned runs on 12 hits — eight of them home runs — over 8⅔ innings. He has struck out only five.
It started in the first inning on Friday when Swisher homered to left field. Curtis Granderson and Russell Martin then connected back-to-back in the second inning.
Granderson, who has 31 homers, was the first lefthanded batter to hit a home run against Morales this season.
Down, 3-0, after two innings, the Sox scored four runs in the third inning.
Mike Aviles singled and took third when Hughes fielded a ball hit back to the mound by Scott Podsednik and fired it into center field for an error. The ball appeared to slip out of the pitcher’s hand.
With runners at first and third, Pedro Ciriaco grounded into a force play at second base that scored Aviles. That gave Ciriaco seven RBIs in six games against the Yankees this season.
After Jacoby Ellsbury drew a walk, Dustin Pedroia celebrated his 29th birthday with a line drive home run into the stands in left field, extending his hitting streak to 12 games.
Pedroia and Ted Williams share the distinction of hitting home runs on their birthday in three seasons. Pedroia has 10 home runs this season.
Because of his own error, none of the runs Hughes allowed were earned.
The 4-3 lead appeared to rejuvenate Morales. He sailed through the third and fourth innings and retired the first two batters of the fifth before Derek Jeter came to the plate.
Jeter pulled a 3-and-1 slider just inside the foul pole in left field for his 10th home run of the season and the 250th of his career. The historic blast also gave the Yankees 10 players with at least 10 home runs, tying a franchise record first set in 1998.
Morales has allowed nine home runs in 43 innings as a starter, all but one against the Yankees.
The Yankees took a 5-4 lead in the sixth inning.
Casey McGehee and Granderson had singles, the first hits allowed by Morales that weren’t home runs. With runners on first and third, reliever Clayton Mortensen struck out Martin for the second out of the inning. But Jayson Nix flicked a single down the line in right field to drive in McGehee.
The lead grew to 6-4 in the seventh inning with Swisher, batting lefthanded this time, homering to right-center.
It marked the 12th time in his career that Swisher homered from both sides of the plate in the same game. The career leader is Mark Teixeira with 13.
Hughes pitched well after the third inning, allowing two hits before David Robertson relieved him to start the eighth.
Hughes allowed four runs on seven hits with one walk and four strikeouts.
Robertson had an eventful inning. With one out, Carl Crawford hit the ball sharply back to the mound. The ball deflected off Robertson’s leg and rolled all the way to right field for a double.
Pedroia was next and hit a towering fly ball to the gap in left. Granderson raced over and caught it at the base of the fence.
Pedroia, watching the ball all the way as he ran to first base, jumped into the air when it was caught, then spun around. He thought he had tied the game but it was only a loud out. Adrian Gonzalez then grounded out for the third time to end the inning.