NEW YORK — Anthony Ranaudo pitched a decent game against the Yankees on Wednesday night. The Red Sox rookie worked into the sixth inning and left the game trailing by two runs.
The righthander said afterward it was the most comfortable he has felt in the four starts he has made in the majors this season.
But Ranaudo, like so many other Sox pitchers this season, learned there’s not much wiggle room when you take the mound for a team last in the American League in runs.
The result for Ranaudo and the Red Sox was a 5-1 loss before a crowd of 40,007 at Yankee Stadium.
Hiroki Kuroda and two relievers held the Red Sox to five hits.
It was the 27th time this season the Sox were either shut out or scored one run.
Brian McCann was 4 for 4 with a home run and three RBIs for the Yankees.
The Yankees, who are desperately trying to stay in playoff contention, snapped a three-game losing streak.
The Red Sox are 5-4 on a road trip that ends Thursday night with Brandon Workman facing Chris Capuano.
Ranaudo (3-1) gave up three runs on six hits over 5⅓ innings. He walked two and struck out one with a few dozen friends and family from New Jersey in the stands.
“I felt really good actually,” Ranaudo said. “The best I’ve felt about my stuff throughout the game. Probably the best I’ve mixed my stuff and executed pitches.”
The Red Sox intend to leave Ranaudo in their rotation over the remaining 23 games. The three or four starts he has left should help him prepare for what will be a competitive spring training for the young starters.
In his previous three starts, Ranaudo was optioned back to the minors after the game.
“Getting my feet underneath me again and being with the team full time, that’s going to be good,” he said. “I can go about my work and hopefully go out there with the same stuff and confidence and mix and hopefully be a lot better.”
Ranaudo has a 4.63 ERA and has walked more (10) than he has struck out (eight). Home runs (five in 23⅓ innings) are another issue.
But Ranaudo, who turns 25 next week, has the poise Sox manager John Farrell wants to see in a young pitcher.
“Different situations in which he finds himself into, for the most part he hasn’t sped up or hasn’t let an inning unravel on him,” the manager said. “I think those are the most encouraging things.”
The Yankees had an embarrassing end to the first inning when Derek Jeter and Brett Gardner ran into outs on the bases in the span of a few seconds.
Jeter singled before Gardner bunted for a hit. With Carlos Beltran at the plate, the Yankees tried a double steal. Jeter made it to third but Gardner got caught in a rundown between first and second.
Jeter strayed too far off third base and second baseman Jemile Weeks spun out of the rundown and threw the Yankee captain out going back to third. Brock Holt tagged a standing Jeter on the leg, then threw back to second.
First baseman Allen Craig, who smartly was covering the bag, laid the tag on Gardner and the Red Sox had two outs on a 2-6-3-4-5-3 double play.
“That was a nice play by everybody,” Holt said. “They were all screaming at me to go to second but I saw Gardner out of the corner of my eye.”
The Yankees made up for it in the second inning. Mark Teixeira singled to center, sending a line drive past Ranaudo he was unable to glove.
McCann then belted a high 0-and-2 fastball into the second deck in right field for his 17th home run.
The Sox had their own bit of bad base running in the fifth inning. With the Yankees up, 2-0, Daniel Nava led off with a single to center. He was then picked off, casually walking back to the bag when Kuroda threw over.
“He caught Daniel off-guard, there’s no question about it,” Farrell said.
Nava, while effective at getting on base, has made a number of mistakes in the field and on the bases this season.
“It needs to improve, yes,” Farrell said. “Those are reminders that are continually given. Conversations to anticipate certain plays; that continues to be followed-through on.”
The Yankees took a 3-0 lead in the fifth inning. With Chase Headley on first base and one out, Ranaudo walked Stephen Drew before Ichiro Suzuki singled to load the bases.
Jacoby Ellsbury’s sacrifice fly to left scored Headley. Ellsbury has nine RBIs against the Red Sox in 15 games this season, his most against any team.
The Sox finally scored against Kuroda (10-8) in the sixth inning. Weeks was hit by a pitch and scored on a double to left field by Holt.
Gardner got spun around chasing the ball and Holt had his first RBI since Aug. 19.
With a chance for more, Mookie Betts hit a fly ball to right field and David Ortiz one to left field.
Ranaudo walked Beltran with one out in the sixth inning and left after 90 pitches. Craig Breslow allowed two hits but struck out Drew with the bases loaded to end the inning.
The Yankees scored twice in the seventh inning against Alex Wilson. Ellsbury’s line drive to the gap in left was out of the reach of a diving Betts and went for a triple. Jeter walked and Gardner singled to right with the infield in. McCann had an RBI single later in the inning.Peter Abraham can be reached at email@example.com. Follow him on Twitter @PeteAbe.