NEW YORK (AP) - Despite being the preseason favorite to win the rugged AL East, the Boston Red Sox are finding that reaching .500 in May after an 0-6 start feels A-OK.
Kevin Youkilis hit a tying three-run homer, David Ortiz had a go-ahead drive and the Red Sox completed a sweep of a team in turmoil, beating the New York Yankees with a 7-5 victory Sunday night to even up their record for the first time this season.
``Actually feels good. Hopefully this is a step in us moving forward,' manager Terry Francona said. ``It's not really what our goal is but we're making strides. We played a good series.'
Jon Lester (5-1) shrugged off a slow start to beat New York again and Jarrod Saltalamacchia hit his first homer with Boston as the Red Sox swept a three-game series in the Bronx for the first time since April 2004.
``That's what people expect us to do,' Ortiz said. ``When you combine good hitting with good pitching, as you saw, you're supposed to win.'
Despite jumping out to a 4-1 lead, the Yankees matched their longest losing streak since May 2009 by losing their fifth straight - all at home - a slump plagued by shaky defense, a lack of big hits - and a huge mess in the clubhouse.
Jorge Posada was in the middle of the uproar Saturday, pulling himself from the lineup about an hour before gametime, saying he needed a day to clear his head after being dropped to ninth in the batting order.
The struggling designated hitter apologized Sunday to manager Joe Girardi and general manager Brian Cashman for his actions on what he characterized as ``a bad day.' The Yankees said they will not punish the five-time All-Star and consider the matter closed.
Cashman said it was time to move on and focus on the Red Sox and righting the Yankees, losers of nine of 12.
``It seems like when things are going bad, they're going bad,' Girardi said. ``we're going to turn it around.'
Posada entered as a pinch-hitter to open the eighth and received a sustained ovation. He walked but Daniel Bard retired the next three batters.
Jonathan Papelbon stopped twice to tie his shoes - much to the ire of the fans remaining - during a perfect ninth to finish for his seventh save.
Alex Rodriguez let a ball roll through his legs in the seventh inning for an error, allowing the Red Sox to take a 6-4 lead - an insurance run they would need in the bottom half. Carl Crawford failed to cleanly pick up Rodriguez's double to left field for an error, which gave Curtis Granderson time to score from first.
``I don't know what the numbers say but we've almost made an error per game here over the last 15 games,' Rodriguez said. ``We've hurt ourselves over and over again with the glove and tonight was an example of me not making a very routine play.'
New York has made 13 errors in its past 10 games.
But Nick Swisher struck out against Bard with runners on first and second to drop to 0 for 17 with runners in scoring position and two outs this year. Since May 2, the Yankees are 21 for 95 (.221) with runners in scoring position overall.
``It has been frustrating,' Swisher said of the Yankees' struggles, ``but, hey, man, we don't have much time to worry about this.'
Even though Posada was not in the starting lineup because he was 0 for 24 against left-handers this season, the Bleacher Creatures finished their roll call with chants of ``Jorge!' that elicited a cheer from the crowd of 46,945. Posada gave a wave from the dugout.
Posada was first to the top of the dugout steps to greet designated hitter Andruw Jones, who hammered a pitch from Lester deep into the left-field seats leading off the second for a 2-1 lead.
Granderson connected for a two-run shot four batters later, the first homer Lester has allowed against a lefty batter this season.
But Youkilis spoiled the good vibes at Yankee Stadium with a three-run shot off Freddy Garcia (2-3) in the third and Ortiz broke his bat on his seventh homer in the fifth to make it 5-4. Big Papi was a triple shy of the cycle.
``We're just going out playing good ball right now,' Youkilis said. ``We've come a long way since 0-6.'
Lester settled after a rocky start, giving up just one hit and striking out five after the second inning.
He walked two in the sixth between strikeouts but got Brett Gardner to pop up to first for the third out.
Lester struck out seven and walked four in six innings to win his fifth straight decision this year and improve to 7-1 against the Yankees.
The Red Sox loaded the bases with none out in the second but only scored one run off Garcia, on Jed Lowrie's sacrifice fly.
Saltalamacchia homered off Joba Chamberlain in the eighth for his first homer since Aug. 2, 2009, for Texas against Seattle. Setup man Rafael Soriano is nursing a sore elbow and was not available. He said postgame he plans to have a bullpen session Monday and be available to pitch Wednesday.
Notes: Adrian Gonzalez's streak of homering in four straight games - five homers total - came to an end. ... Garcia has not allowed a grand slam in his career, 1,966 1-3 innings. ... Marco Scutaro (strained oblique) on the DL since May 8 will rejoin Red Sox in Boston on Monday to continue his rehab. He was not with the team during the five-game road trip.
The Associated Press News Service
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