BOSTON -- Mariano Rivera knew he was in trouble, that the cutter out of his hand might be destined to clang against the left-field wall, sparking one of those rallies the Yankees always seem so surprised by.
The closer coughed up a one-run lead in the ninth inning and Josh Reddick ended a long evening with a game-winning hit off Phil Hughes in the next frame, lifting the Red Sox to a 3-2 victory at Fenway Park early Monday morning.
"It's a loss," said Rivera, who suffered his fifth blown save of the year. "A loss is a loss; it doesn't matter how you look at it, unfortunately. The only one to blame is myself, so we have to just continue playing hard. That's all I can say."
The outcome clinched the season series for the Red Sox, who have already taken 10 of the first 12 meetings between the rivals, and puts Boston back atop the American League East with a one-game lead.
New York was set to secure the weekend series on the strength of solo home runs from a pair of unlikely power sources, as Eduardo Nunez took Josh Beckett deep and Brett Gardner went deep against Matt Albers.
Cory Wade pitched out of a sixth-inning jam before Rafael Soriano and Dave Robertson held the Red Sox quiet in the seventh and eighth innings, respectively, but Rivera couldn't follow suit.
"Our bullpen, for the most part, was really, really good in this series," Yankees manager Joe Girardi said, "and it's unfortunate that we lose a game like we did tonight."
Of course, the Yankees' 0-for-10 performance with runners in scoring position didn't help matters.
Marco Scutaro -- who slugged a game-winning home run off Rivera in Oakland four years ago -- opened the ninth by belting a 93-mph cutter deep in the air to left field, denting the Green Monster for a double.
When Jacoby Ellsbury followed with a bunt that Rivera pounced off the mound for, the hurler considered going to third base before he saw Nunez hadn't made it back to cover the bag. Rivera fired just in time to first base.
"Even though [Ellsbury] bunted right back at me, I don't think there was a chance [for Nunez] to go all the way back there and get him out," Rivera said.
Dustin Pedroia cashed the run with a sacrifice fly, and with Daniel Bard silencing the Yankees in the 10th, Girardi asked Hughes to keep the game going after Rivera absorbed his 14th career blown save against Boston.
"That's exciting -- any time you see Mo in a game, it's not good news," Red Sox manager Terry Francona said. "We're the one team, every once in a while, you kind of make a chip."
David Ortiz raked a one-out ground-rule double to right field off Hughes. After an intentional walk, Reddick laced a liner into the left-field corner for his first career walk-off hit, scoring pinch-runner Darnell McDonald.
"It was a tough loss for us," Hughes said. "I wish I could've come in and done the job."
The extra-inning affair creates another wrinkle for the Yankees. Since Hughes was pressed into service, the club needs to revise its rotation which tentatively had Hughes starting on Tuesday against the Angels.
Girardi said that Hughes will not make that start; he is considering having A.J. Burnett move up a day, but that won't be finalized until Monday.
The Yankees did feel better in the starting pitching department with what they got from Freddy Garcia, who battled through five innings against a lineup that had given him fits this year.
Garcia allowed just a run on five hits despite entering the game with a pair of losses facing the Red Sox, against whom he had allowed nine runs in eight previous innings (10.80 ERA).
This time, though, Scutaro was the only Boston hitter to knock in a run off Garcia, with that one coming on a second-inning single to right field -- a lone dent following a bases-loaded, none-out spot.
"He just made pitches," Girardi said. "That's what we're used to seeing from Freddy; Freddy's going to give up some hits, but he's going to make pitches when runners are on, and he did it again tonight."
The Yankees saddled Beckett with a no-decision as the right-hander permitted six hits, walking two and striking out five. Beckett had beaten the Yankees in all three previous starts this year.
"It's tough," Beckett said. "It's definitely something that I'm proud of, just because of how good a lineup that is, even missing [Alex] Rodriguez. They've had a few other guys step up since he's been gone."
Even with an off-day ahead on Monday to absorb the defeat, the Yankees need to find a way to turn the page quickly. Beginning Tuesday, New York embarks on a stretch in which it is scheduled to play a challenging 30 games in 30 days.
"We just have to continue to play the game we've been playing," Rivera said. "Yeah, we lost the series, but we're going home and we've got to play our ball."