Phelps, Suzuki power Yanks past Red Sox

Phelps pitches six strong innings; Suzuki knocks in two runs to preserve the win
03/20/2014 10:24 PM ET
By Lou DiPietro

Battery mates Francisco Cervelli and David Phelps helped propel the Yankees past the rival Red Sox.(AP)
David Phelps pitched six strong innings, Francisco Cervelli hit his team-leading fourth homer of the spring and the Yankees held on to top the Red Sox, 3-2, under the lights in Fort Myers, Fla., Thursday night.

Early on, the game was a pitcher's duel between Phelps and Boston Red Sox starter Clay Buchholz. Cervelli's solo homer got the Yankees on the board in the second inning, but that was pretty much all the offense to speak of in the game's first half. Buchholz went on to retire 11 in a row after the home run, while Phelps allowed only Shane Victorino's first-inning double and a fifth-inning walk to Daniel Nava -- which was immediately erased on a double play -- through the first five frames.

The Yankees finally broke through again with two outs in the fifth. Zoilo Almonte's walk broke up Buchholz's run of 11 straight and started a run of four straight Yankees reaching base. Zelous Wheeler followed that walk with a double, and Ichiro Suzuki then made it 3-0 with an RBI single to right that plated both men. Dean Anna followed that with a single to put two on, but Buchholz rebounded to get Eduardo Nunez to ground out to end the inning.

The Red Sox, however, fought back and finally got to Phelps in the sixth. David Ross led off with a single, and after a Jonathan Herrera fielders' choice erased Ross, Grady Sizemore singled to put runners on first and second. Phelps got Shane Victorino to ground out for the second out, but Dustin Pedroia followed with a two-run double to cut the lead to 3-2. Phelps walked David Ortiz right after, but like Buchholz in the fifth, he rebounded to get Mike Napoli to pop out to end the threat.

And that, as they say, was pretty much that, as both bullpens put the game back on lockdown over the final few innings.

After Phelps (6 IP, 2 ER, 4 H, 2 BB, 3 K, 85 pitches) departed for the Yankees, Chris Leroux retired all four batters he faced and Fred Lewis allowed one hit and struck out one in 2/3 inning of work. Matt Daley pitched a perfect ninth to earn the save.

Meanwhile, on the other side, Red Sox left-hander Chris Capuano surrendered just two walks in three strong innings, and Drake Britton allowed one hit in a scoreless ninth.

Offensively, the Yankees needed just six hits, with Cervelli and Ichiro notching the big blows. Wheeler, Anna, Nunez, and Adonis Garcia had the other hits, with Wheeler, Almonte and Mark Teixeira drawing the three walks allowed by Red Sox pitching.

With the win, the Yankees improve to 13-9-2 in the Grapefruit League and 14-9-2 on the spring overall. Friday brings another night game -- this time back in Tampa --and CC Sabathia will be on the mound when the Pirates come in for a 7:05 p.m. start at Steinbrenner Field.


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