NEW YORK -- Entering their latest key series -- a three-game showdown in the Bronx -- the last thing the Red Sox wanted to do was watch the Yankees play home run derby.
But that's exactly what the Bronx Bombers did, muscling their way to a 6-4 victory over Boston.
Lefty Franklin Morales was the victim of four of New York's five long balls. Amazingly, Morales has allowed just one home run in his six non-Yankees starts this season and eight in just two starts against New York.
"You know what? I tried to throw my pitches," Morales said. "When you miss, that's going to happen."
It will especially happen against the Yankees in a ballpark known for being hitter-friendly.
"We get to hit here, too," said catcher Jarrod Saltalamacchia. "It's not just them -- they're a good hitting team. When you fall behind you can't leave the ball over the middle of the plate. They took advantage of us falling behind and hit some pitches over the plate."
Dustin Pedroia, celebrating his 29th birthday, tried to counter New York's power by himself.
It was Pedroia who hit a three-run rocket to left with two outs in the top of the third, giving the Red Sox a 4-3 lead.
But Derek Jeter smoked a solo shot to left in the fifth against Morales, tying the game.
"I felt pretty good," Morales said. "I talked to myself and said, 'Hey, you need to keep the score that way and execute pitches.' I missed one slider to Jeter and he hit it. That's the first slider I threw tonight."
Through the first five innings, the only hits allowed by Morales were the home runs.
"Well, other than the home runs, he had pretty good stuff," said manager Bobby Valentine. "They hit all of his different pitches. It wasn't any one pitch. Jeter's ball, I guess, cut a little inside for a pitch that he wanted -- I think he wanted to have that go away. But otherwise, he wasn't that bad. He just wasn't good enough."
In the sixth, the Yankees finally produced a rally that didn't include a baseball flying over the wall. Singles by Casey McGehee and Curtis Granderson put runners at the corners with one out, and Valentine replaced Morales with Clayton Mortensen.
The righty started well, striking out Russell Martin. But Jayson Nix blooped a single to right on an 0-2 pitch that brought in McGehee for the go-ahead run.
"I left it up just enough for him to flick the bat head out and bloop a single," Mortensen said. "The pitch has got to be better -- it's got to be in the dirt. Especially an 0-2 pitch -- you should never give up a hit on an 0-2 pitch, that's for sure. That's my fault."
Nick Swisher provided insurance in the seventh, belting his second home run of the game on a 3-0 pitch to make it 6-4.
"Falling behind Swisher, that's something you never want to do," Mortensen said. "I knew he was a 3-0 swinger, too. I should have thrown him a better pitch than what I did. I kind of threw him one right over the middle and he tomahawked it."
Pedroia was nearly a hero again in the top of the eighth as he launched one high and deep to left-center. But Granderson tracked it down just to the right of the 399-foot sign. Pedroia winced around first as he watched the catch.
"Yeah, they hit five home runs," Valentine said. "All solo shots, too much for Dustin to combat. He hit a three-runner and almost hit a two-runner to tie it up. He hit the ball to the furthest part of the park. He really hit that ball well in the eighth. Yeah, the home runs, that's the way they live, and they had a bunch of them tonight."
Morales went 5 1/3 innings, giving up six hits and five runs, walking one and striking out three.
The Yankees jumped out first in the bottom of the first, when Swisher belted a one-out solo homer to left.
Morales gave up back-to-back solo shots in the second, the first to Granderson and the latter blast by Martin.
Down 3-0, the Red Sox came storming back in the third against Phil Hughes. Mike Aviles got the rally started with a single up the middle. Boston then got a big break. Scott Podsednik hit one back toward the box and Hughes seemingly was going to start an easy double play. But perhaps he lost his footing on the soggy ground. Hughes' throw sailed into center, putting runners at the corners. Pedro Ciriaco got a run home on a fielder's-choice grounder.
Jacoby Ellsbury kept the rally going with a walk, and with two outs, Pedroia gave the Red Sox their short-lived lead with his 10th homer of the season.
The Red Sox fell to 58-62 on the season, and they trail the Yankees by 13 1/2 games in the American League East and are 6 1/2 back in the AL Wild Card standings.
"I don't really pay attention to the standings now," said Jeter. "We've got a lot of games left, so I don't think it's time to look at the scoreboard and see where people are. Our team, in the first 40 games, people said our season was over with. So anything's possible, and right now we need to worry about ourselves and continue to play well, but every time we face them and play them it's tough games, but you can't look at the scoreboard."