NEW YORK — Mike Napoli stung Masahiro Tanaka with a two-out solo homer in the ninth inning, lifting Jon Lester and the Red Sox over the Yankees 2-1 Saturday night.
Napoli had struck out in his previous two at-bats before lining an opposite-field drive into the first row of seats in right. Napoli also homered off Tanaka at Fenway Park in late April.
Boston won for the third time in nine games. The defending World Series champions are 37-44, marking the first time since 1997 that the Red Sox have been under .500 at the halfway mark of the season.
The matchup between Lester and Tanaka, the American League ERA leader, shaped up as a pitchers duel, and it was. Lester improved to 13-6 lifetime against the Yankees, including a loss to Tanaka in Boston on April.
Lester and closer Koji Uehara came through for a Red Sox team that has scored three runs or fewer in 12 of its past 14 games.
An odd sequence ended the Yankees' eighth. Jacoby Ellsbury tried to steal second with two outs, and the fans cheered when catcher David Ross' throw skipped into centerfield. As Ellsbury headed toward third, however, the crowd began to realize strike three had been called on Mark Teixeira.
Earlier in the inning, second baseman Dustin Pedroia made a nifty pickup and glove flip to start a double play on Derek Jeter.
Ross homered in the Boston third, launching a drive far over the leftfield fence. Tanaka muttered to himself after the ball cleared the wall.
Tanaka has demonstrated a deft touch at escaping jams, and he did it again the next inning after Pedroia led off with a single and David Ortiz followed with a double.
Tanaka struck out Napoli and Stephen Drew, then got Xander Bogaerts on a grounder to keep it tied at 1. Tanaka clapped his hand into his glove, jogged off the mound and fist-bumped with Jeter.
Lester held the Yankees hitless until Brett Gardner bounced a leadoff single up the middle in the sixth. A long streak was preserved: No one has pitched a complete-game no-hitter against the Yankees since Hoyt Wilhelm in 1958. Six Astros pitchers combined to do it in 2003.
Lester's no-hit bid was extended with two outs in the fifth when Yangervis Solarte was called out on a video review, taking away an infield single.