BOSTON — — The New York Yankees still have a double-digit lead in the AL East and a chance to coast into the postseason.
What they do once they get there could depend on whether closer Clay Holmes can straighten things out in time.
Staked with a lead from Aaron Judge‘s 46th homer, the All-Star reliever walked back-to-back batters in the ninth and then gave up a tying single to J.D. Martinez on Friday night. Tommy Pham delivered the walk-off hit in the 10th to lead the last-place Red Sox to a 3-2 victory over the first-place Yankees and send New York to its eighth loss in nine games.
“He struggled with strikes there obviously. That’s a situation we’ve got to get the strike thrown,” Yankees manger Aaron Boone said. “It’s just a matter of getting him locked in mechanically and letting it rip.”
New York pitchers retired 12 straight Boston batters before Holmes walked two with one out in the ninth and then gave up Martinez’s single up the middle. Holmes was 4-0 with an 0.47 ERA and 16 saves in 17 tries on July 7; since then, he is 1/3 with four blown saves while giving up 11 earned runs in 11 innings.
Asked if Holmes would remain as closer, Boone said, “We’ll see.”
“I’ll try to put in him in the best positions to be successful. Some nights that will be the ninth,” Boone said. “But we’ll keep working with him. Got to get him consistent.”
Judge, who had his major league-leading 46th homer and 100th RBI in the third inning, reached base for the fourth time when he was walked to lead off the 10th. But Garrett Whitlock fanned Josh Donaldson and Gleyber Torres to end the threat.
In the bottom half, automatic runner Christian Arroyo took third on a groundout and then stayed there on pinch-hitter Reese McGuire’s bunt single. Pham, a trade deadline acquisition, punched one down the third-base line to spark a celebration in the sold-out crowd — or at least the portion trying to outshout the visiting Yankee fans.
“When they come into town, we expect this. We expect games like that,” said Red Sox manager Alex Cora, whose team has won its last three games against the Yankees in Boston. “They have an outstanding team, but we’ve played well against them the last three times.”
Cora insisted that he Red Sox, who are in seventh place and four games out in the race for three wild-card spots, still have a chance to make the playoffs.
“I’ve been saying that for a while,” he said. “Not too many people believe me. But I think the people that really matter, they believe it. That’s the people in here.”
Whitlock (3-2) struck out three and walked one in two innings.
Lou Trivino (1-7) allowed two hits and recorded one out for the Yankees, who lost their third straight game.
Judge hit the first pitch of the third inning 429 feet, over the Monster Seats and onto Lansdowne Street; he is on a pace to hit 66 home runs. He also walked twice and was hit by a pitch, reaching base at least three times for the fifth game in a row.
Yankees starter Domingo Germán was charged with one run on five hits and two walks, striking out four in six innings.
Nathan Eovaldi dodged the loss when the Red Sox rallied in the ninth. He allowed two runs on eight hits and two walks, striking out three in six innings.
With Andrew Benintendi on first and Trevino at the plate, Red Sox shortstop Xander Bogaerts let a popup drop, then flipped it to second base for the force out. The decision left Trevino at first instead of Benintendi, a faster runner.
Academy Award-winning actress Jennifer Hudson threw out a ceremonial first pitch. … The Red Sox played a highlight video for Benintendi, a member of the 2018 World Series championship team. He had not played in Fenway Park since the Red Sox traded him to Kansas City before the 2021 season.
Yankees: Donaldson shook it off after going over the dugout railing in pursuit of a foul popup. He remained in the game.
Red Sox: Kiké Hernández went 0-for-3 with a walk and a strikeout in a rehab appearance for the Double-A Portland SeaDogs. He batted second and played center field. He could rejoin the Red Sox as soon as Tuesday. … RHP Tyler Danish also appeared for Portland, allowing one run on one hit and two walks in one inning, striking out two.