Mike Napoli came to the plate in the eighth inning on Sunday night with a chance to be the hero. The Red Sox had the bases loaded with one out in a tie game with the Yankees.
Napoli grounded into a double play and extra innings followed.
When Napoli came to the plate again, this time on Monday morning, he didn’t miss his second opportunity.
Napoli belted a home run to straightaway center field in the 11th inning to end a wild night at Fenway Park as the Red Sox beat the Yankees, 8-7.
“That’s what great about this game, you always get another chance,” Napoli said. “I was glad I got the opportunity to go up there and make up for it.”
The crowd of 38,138, the largest of the season at Fenway, had thinned considerably by the time Napoli lined a cut fastball from Adam Warren into the bleachers.
It was his second home run of the night and it ended a game that lasted 4 hours, 46 minutes. It was the ninth walkoff victory for the Red Sox this season.
Napoli acknowledged he was trying to hit a home run.
“Yeah, two outs and nobody on. At least try and hit a double or drive the ball somewhere,” he said. “You’re trying to make good contact and I got a pitch I could do it on.”
Pedro Beato, the sixth Red Sox reliever, got the win by pitching a scoreless inning. The Red Sox bullpen threw 5⅔ innings, allowing one earned run.
The top of the 11th inning ended when Eduardo Nunez was thrown out stealing second base. Replays showed that he beat the throw from Jarrod Saltalamacchia but second baseman Dustin Pedroia made a quick tag and umpire Mike Everitt made the call.
Beato, a native New Yorker, won his second game with the Sox.
“I was just trying to give the offense a chance,” he said.
The Sox won despite committing three errors that led to three unearned runs.
“In the end we had enough offense to overcome the miscues defensively,” manager John Farrell said.
The Sox maintained a 1½-game lead on the Rays, who arrive at Fenway on Monday night for a four-game series. Tampa Bay has won 17 of its last 19 games.
In taking two of three from the Yankees, the 60-40 Sox have won 20 series. That matches what they had all last season. The Yankees leave seven games out of first.
The Sox are 6-3 against the Yankees this season.
The first two innings were ugly as Ryan Dempster threw 50 pitches, the Sox committed two errors, and the Yankees built a 3-0 lead.
Brett Gardner opened the game with a single to right field. Ichiro Suzuki was next and grounded a ball right back to the mound. Dempster had a chance at a double play but threw the ball wide left of second base.
Gardner went to third. With Robinson Cano up, Suzuki stole second base. The throw from Jarrod Saltalamacchia skipped into center field and Gardner trotted home. Vernon Wells then singled in Suzuki.
Dempster walked light-hitting Chris Stewart to start the second inning. Two groundouts moved Stewart to third base. Dempster then hit Suzuki with a two-strike fastball, giving Cano a chance. He singled to center to drive in the run.
The Sox struck back against Yankees starter CC Sabathia in the third inning. Jacoby Ellsbury led off with a double down the line in right field. Shane Victorino, somewhat curiously, sacrificed the speedy Ellsbury to third.
Dustin Pedroia followed with an RBI single. When David Ortiz singled to center, Pedroia took third.
Napoli, a man in need of a big hit, crushed a belt-high fastball over everything in left field for his 12th home run.
For Napoli, Sunday was his first game with three or more RBIs since June 1 and only his second since May 1. The blast gave the Sox a 4-3 lead.
The Sox tacked on two runs in the fourth. Sabathia hit Stephen Drew with a pitch before Jose Iglesias bunted to the right side and split the defense for a single.
Ellsbury singled to right to load the bases. Victorino then bounced a single over the head of third baseman Luis Cruz to score two runs.
Jonny Gomes led off the fifth with a home run that rattled around a light tower in left. It was his eighth of the season and second of the series. Sabathia has allowed 23 home runs this season, already the most in his career.
Sabathia, who turned 33 Sunday, lasted five innings, allowing seven runs on nine hits. In his last 10 starts against the Sox, the big lefty has a 6.06 ERA and only three wins.
“It’s kind of strange. He’s been so good for so long and to see him struggle a little bit is kind of strange,” Yankees manager Joe Girardi said.
Dempster had a 7-3 lead but cracked against the bottom of New York’s piecemeal lineup in the sixth.
Nunez singled before Dempster again walked Stewart. Dempster got one out before Gardner singled in a run.
Lefthander Craig Breslow, in to face the lefthanded hitting Suzuki and Cano, allowed back-to-back singles and the Red Sox lead was trimmed to 7-5.
Breslow’s rocky outing continued in the seventh inning. He walked leadoff hitter Wells before Nunez singled with one out.
Junichi Tazawa was next out of the Boston bullpen. Stewart bunted the first pitch he saw toward third base. Iglesias fired the ball past Napoli at first base.
Wells scored, Nunez went to third base, and Stewart was awarded second. The error proved costly as the tying scored when Cruz grounded to shortstop.