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The Red Sox had their ace on the mound for Friday’s first game of a pivotal three-game set against the New York Yankees.

While Chris Sale has a 2.57 ERA following his return from Tommy John surgery, he has had the benefit of soft landings with five of his seven outings coming against teams under .500.

Nate Eovaldi, though, had turned in 30 starts. He had a 3.58 ERA in those starts, fully immersed in the twists and turns of this Red Sox season and thriving in it.

It came to an abrupt halt Friday evening at Fenway Park.

Eovaldi and the Sox were hit in the mouth, falling, 8-3. The loss put the Yankees just one game behind the Sox for the first wild-card spot.

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“The good ones,” Sox manager Alex Cora said afterward, “they have bad ones.”

Certainly, Friday was a bad one for Eovaldi.

The Yankees applied force against Eovaldi from the start. Then, after scoring three runs in the first inning, New York connected on a haymaker in the third.

With two on and no outs, Giancarlo Stanton jumped on Eovaldi’s low and in cutter, sending it into the Red Sox bullpen for a three-run homer. It stretched the Sox’ deficit to six runs.

“I felt like I wasn’t putting guys away,” Eovaldi said. “I didn’t really have a great feel on my curveball or splitter tonight early. In the first inning, I was sweating a lot. The splitter just kept slipping out. I wasn’t executing, I wasn’t getting it down in the zone.”

DJ LeMahieu led off the contest with a single to right. Eovaldi was up 0 and 2 before LeMahieu worked it to 3-2 and collected his hit. Anthony Rizzo added a broken-bat single to put men on first and second. Aaron Judge supplied the Yankees’ first run, scalding a 112.7-mile-per-hour double off the left-center field wall. He had Judge down 0 and 2.

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An RBI groundout by Stanton followed by a Gleyber Torres RBI single put the Yankees in the driver’s seat with their ace, Gerrit Cole, on the hill.

Eovaldi wasn’t fooling any of the Yankee hitters, drawing just three swings and misses out of the 59 pitches he threw.

“It’s frustrating,” Eovaldi said. “We know how important this game is tonight and where we are in the hunt for the wild card. To be able to come in tonight, I gotta be able to set the tone, especially the first game of the series, and I didn’t do that tonight.”

Eovaldi exited the game after just 2⅔ innings, turning in his shortest start of the year. Cora summoned Hirokazu Sawamura with two on and two outs. Sawamura induced a Kyle Higashioka pop up toward first base. This is when Kyle Schwarber’s inexperience at first reared its head.

Schwarber appeared camped under it, but Rafael Devers came crashing in from third. In what was an apparent miscommunication, Schwarber let the ball drop, allowing the Yankees’ seventh run to come in.

Cole wasn’t sharp in this one either. He walked three through his first three innings. But he was still effective enough to keep the Red Sox hitless until J.D. Martinez laced a ground-rule double to right field in the fourth.

In the sixth, Fenway finally got some life. Kiké Hernández led off with a single that sneaked its way through the right side. Schwarber’s single got under the glove of Rizzo at first, putting runners on the corners for Rafael Devers. On a 1-and-0 pitch, Devers deposited a three-run shot, slimming the Red Sox’ deficit to four runs.

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The Sox bullpen ate some innings Friday. Sawamura worked his way through 2⅓ scoreless innings and Matt Barnes delivered a scoreless frame of his own. Martín Pérez navigated through the final three innings and surrendered just a run on Torres’s solo shot in the seventh.

The Sox stayed away from some of their high-leverage relievers, setting them up for the final two games of this series.

“We’ll be ready for [Saturday],” Cora said.



Julian McWilliams can be reached at julian.mcwilliams@globe.com. Follow him on Twitter @byJulianMack.