NEW YORK — On the night Mookie Betts made his much-hyped debut with the Red Sox, David Ortiz and Dustin Pedroia issued a reminder they’re the ones who will determine the fate of this team.
If the Red Sox are to return to the postseason, Sunday provided a template as Ortiz and Pedroia each drove in three runs in an 8-5 victory against the New York Yankees.
With their two best hitters fueling a 12-hit attack, the Red Sox finished their road trip 4-6 with three wins in their last four games. Taking two of three from the Yankees put the Sox six games out of first place, the closest they have been since June 1.
Pedroia was 6 for 7 with a walk the last two games while Ortiz belted a long home run on Sunday that gave the Sox an early lead that John Lackey (9-5) and four relievers made stand up.
“If you’re going to be good, your good guys got to be good,” Lackey said. “To get to where we want to be, those guys are going to have to drive the bus. You can put whatever parts around those guys. You need the parts to do well too. But they’re the engine that runs this thing.”
The Sox put 20 runners on base against six Yankees pitchers. The eight runs were their most since June 13. After Ortiz’s three-run homer in the third inning, the Sox continued to surge with Pedroia knocking in his runs.
“They have carried their weight for a long, long time,” manager John Farrell said. “They've got very strong track records. Before this season’s out, we’ll look up and their numbers will be right in line with their careers.”
The Sox play 13 of their next 16 games at home starting on Monday night against the Chicago Cubs.
“I thought we played pretty good. We have some momentum going home,” Pedroia said. “Keep it rolling.”
As for Betts, he was 1 for 3 with a walk and a run scored. He also was caught stealing and had one misadventure in right field in an eventful first game.
Yankees starter Chase Whitley lasted four innings, giving up five runs on eight hits and two walks.
Mike Napoli, who won Saturday’s game with a ninth-inning home run against Masahiro Tanaka, doubled to start the second inning. He advanced to third on A.J. Pierzynski’s fly ball to right field and scored on a rare hit by Stephen Drew.
It was the second RBI of the season for Drew in 59 plate appearances. He had one hit in his previous 34 at-bats.
Brock Holt walked with one out in the third inning before Pedroia singled. Ortiz had grounded into an inning-ending double play in the first when he swung at a 3-and-0 pitch. But this time he pounded a fastball deep into the bleachers in right field.
It was the 450th career home run for Ortiz, his 19th this season. He is on pace for another 30-home run/100-RBI season.
“Offense just doesn’t depend on two guys. There are nine hitters. Everybody’s got to bring something to the table every day,” Ortiz said.
“Everybody can’t focus on me and Dustin . . . But we go out there and try to do our thing every day.”
Whitley walked Jackie Bradley Jr. to start the fifth inning. Righthander Shawn Kelley came in and walked Holt and Daniel Nava to load the bases. Pedroia then picked up his sixth consecutive hit, a soft two-run single to shallow right field.
With one out, Pedroia was picked off first base and stayed in a rundown long enough for Nava to score.
The Red Sox added a run in the sixth inning. Betts led off with a walk, seeing nine pitches from lefthander David Huff. Bradley, who swung the bat well on the road trip, singled to left. When Holt singled to load the bases, the Yankees went to hard-throwing righthander Dellin Betances.
He limited the damage to one run. Nava struck out swinging before Pedroia came through with a sacrifice fly to center. Ortiz then grounded into the shift. That gave the Red Sox an 8-5 lead.
Lackey allowed five runs (four earned) over five innings. Of the six hits he gave up, two were home runs by Mark Teixeira and Carlos Beltran in the fourth inning.
“I’ve been around a long time,” Lackey said. “Pitched against the Yankees about any way you can pitch against them. Boys took care of me tonight and scored a lot of runs.”
With the Sox up, 7-3, Ichiro Suzuki led off the fifth inning with a line drive to right field. Betts, playing the position for the third time in his career, tried to make a diving catch and the ball rolled by him for a triple. Brett Gardner followed with an RBI double. He scored on two ground outs.
Bradley cut down a run in the sixth inning. With Beltran on second base after a double off Burke Badenhop, Kelly Johnson singled. Beltran tried to score and Bradley easily threw him out. It was his ninth assist, the most among major league center fielders.
“Maybe he thought I was going to concede the run with the lead we had,” Bradley said. “Nope.”
Badenhop, Andrew Miller, Junichi Tazawa, and Koji Uehara (18 saves) each pitched a scoreless inning. Uehara punctuated his outing by striking out Suzuki with a split-finger fastball that appeared guided by remote control.