NEW YORK -- Raul Ibanez placed a 12th-inning single into left field against Red Sox reliever Andrew Miller, scoring Francisco Cervelli and handing the Yankees a 4-3 win over the Sox Tuesday night at Yankee Stadium. The victory allowed New York to clinch at least a tie for the American League East crown.
The Sox, meanwhile, dropped to 69-92, ensuring that, with one game remaining and the fourth-place Blue Jays now 72-89, the Sox will end the year with the worst record in the five-team American League East. It is the first time that they've had a last-place season since 1992, when the 73-89 Sox finished seventh out of seven teams in the pre-realignment AL East.
"We didn’t start the season to finish fifth or sixth, fourth or third," manager Bobby Valentine said.
Ibanez tied the game in the ninth inning with a two-run, pinch-hit home run against Red Sox closer Andrew Bailey. The homer, which cleared the right-field fence, came with nobody out and scored Curtis Granderson, who led off the frame with a single. After the home run Bailey went on to load the bases, leading to the Red Sox manager bringing on Mark Melancon with one out in the ninth. After retiring Mark Teixeira on a shallow fly ball to center field, Melancon got out of the inning with a ground ball to second off the bat of Robinson Cano.
Up until the ninth, it appeared as though two first-inning runs would be all the Red Sox would need. Then when James Loney smacked a solo shot in the ninth, it seemed as though the Sox were on their way to snapping a six-game losing streak. The Yankees had failed to win a game in 58 opportunities when trailing after eight innings this season.
A Red Sox victory would have thrown New York back into a first-place tie with the Orioles with one game left in the regular season, as Baltimore claimed a 1-0 win over the Rays. The Yankees and Sox will finish off the regular-season Wednesday with Daisuke Matsuzaka taking on Hiroki Kuroda.
The Sox offense was spurred on in the first inning by Dustin Pedroia, who was playing despite being diagnosed with a broken ring finger on his left hand. The second baseman followed Jacoby Ellsbury's leadoff single with a run-scoring double.
Pedroia proceeded to cap the scoring in the first on Cody Ross' sacrifice fly.
The only Yankees run prior to the ninth came in the second inning against Red Sox starter Jon Lester, with Eduardo Nunez' single to shortstop bringing in Granderson. The run was unearned, allowing Lester to finish his five-inning outing not giving up an earned run while allowing eight hits.
Lester was forced to leave the game after five innings due to back spasms. He finished throwing 83 pitches, giving way to reliever Rich Hill. Hill was followed in relief by Junichi Tazawa, Craig Breslow and Bailey.
For more Red Sox news, go to the team page at weei.com/redsox .