NEW YORK -- The last time the Yankees had gone this deep into a season without being able to beat the Red Sox, they answered to the "Highlanders" and played home games at Hilltop Park.

It made for a fascinating history lesson, but the Bombers could head home on Thursday knowing they'd put an end to all the questions about losing time and time again to their classic blood rivals.

Melky Cabrera and Jorge Posada connected for three-run homers and the Bombers pounded veteran John Smoltz as the Yankees finally defeated the Red Sox, 13-6, on Thursday at Yankee Stadium.

"We are playing a lot better than we were at the beginning," Posada said. "We are pitching a lot better and doing a lot of things well on the mound and at the plate. Hopefully we can carry on and do what we did today."

Johnny Damon and Mark Teixeira also homered for the Yankees, who had opened the season with eight straight losses to Boston, the first time they'd been so mastered since 1912.

"We had to keep answering those questions from everybody the past couple of days," Damon said. "We've got one now. Our next goal is to win our second game, and hopefully it comes tomorrow."

Despite the Yankees' standing atop the American League East, the story couldn't change until they proved their mettle against the Red Sox. It finally came in an eight-run bottom of the fourth, as New York sent 13 men to the plate, chased Smoltz and occupied 35 minutes of game play.

Damon hit a solo homer to right and Cabrera belted a three-run shot into the second deck in right field off Smoltz, who lasted just 3 1/3 innings and was charged with eight runs on nine hits.

"We got 10 RBIs from the bottom half of our order," Yankees manager Joe Girardi said. "It's nice to see everyone contributing. At times, we've scored some runs and our games have been real close. It gave us a little bit of a cushion and we just kept adding on."

Posada added a long three-run shot to center off Billy Traber that capped the big inning's scoring. Hideki Matsui later added a two-run double as part of a three-RBI night that helped pad the advantage.

"You still want to keep coming," Posada said. "I don't think any lead is safe with them. You just want to keep on scoring runs."

The victory moved the Yankees a season-high 24 games over .500, pushing their advantage over the Red Sox to 3 1/2 games in the American League East.

"Tip your hat to the Yankees. They came out swinging and it looked like they had something to prove," said Boston's Jed Lowrie.

Victories an early indicator?
Here's how the Red Sox and Yankees have fared in years in which one has opened with four or more wins against the other at the start of the season series.
Year
Team
Opening H2H Streak
Final H2H record
Final overall record
Final overall finish
2009BOSW8+NANANA
NYYL8+NANANA
2007BOSW48-1096-661st in AL East, won WS
NYYL410-894-68AL Wild Card, lost in ALDS
1994NYYW67-37-431st in AL East (no postseason)
BOSL63-754-614th in AL East
1990BOSW49-488-741st in AL East, lost in ALCS
NYYL44-967-957th in AL East
1985BOSW55-881-815th in AL East
NYYL58-597-642nd in AL East
1973BOSW49-989-732nd in AL East
NYYL49-980-844th in AL East
1964BOSW49-972-908th in AL
NYYL49-999-63Lost WS
1956NYYW414-897-57Won WS
BOSL48-1484-704th in AL
1945NYYW416-681-714th in AL
BOSL46-1671-837th in AL
1933NYYW914-891-592nd in AL
BOSL98-1463-867th in AL
1923NYYW414-898-54Won WS
BOSL48-1461-918th in AL
1920BOSW49-1372-815th in AL
NYYL413-995-593rd in AL
1912BOSW1419-2105-47Won WS
NYYL142-1950-1028th in AL

Yankees starter Joba Chamberlain burned through 108 pitches in five innings, allowing four runs on six hits, including home runs to Dustin Pedroia and Casey Kotchman.

"I knew their game plan was to take pitches," Chamberlain said. "They've done that all year. They're good for a reason. They get deep into counts and get the starters out quick."

The 23-year-old right-hander dodged damage in the second and third innings but walked a career-high seven, striking out five before departing with a seven-run lead.

"He was up in the zone a little bit tonight and had a hard time getting his balls down in the zone tonight," Girardi said. "He was OK -- he was not as sharp as he's been, but I thought he did a pretty decent job."

With Dave Robertson, Phil Coke and Mark Melancon soaking up the final 12 outs, New York pitching allowed 12 walks -- their most in a win against any team since Aug. 29, 1967, at the original Stadium.

"I felt we walked too many people, and I think we got away with some situations and we can't continue to do that to this lineup, or they're going to hurt you," Girardi said.

Teixeira added a solo homer, his 28th, off Traber in the seventh to open up a nine-run advantage for New York in front of a sellout crowd of 49,005, the largest at the new Yankee Stadium.

The Yankees have changed plenty since their last sellout on Opening Day. Damon and Teixeira both pointed to the return of Alex Rodriguez as a major factor.

"Alex is back and that's huge," Teixeira said. "When you put him back, it's a different team. I think we have our full team and we're feeling good about it right now."

With the outcome seemingly well in hand, there was a brief dustup in the eighth inning as Melancon buzzed Pedroia with one pitch, then drilled him in the left shoulder with another.

Pedroia exchanged words with the rookie reliever as he walked down to first base and home-plate umpire Derryl Cousins warned both benches. Pedroia slid hard into second base breaking up a fielder's choice in the inning, and Posada said that Melancon's offering had been "just a pitch that got away."

"It's very unfortunate that he hit him. It's 13-4. We're not trying to hit anyone," Girardi said.

Each Yankees starter had a hit in the game as New York snapped its longest losing streak to start a season against Boston since the Highlanders dropped 14 straight in 1912.

"It's definitely better to be 1-8 than 0-9, but we're definitely still not happy about it," Damon said. "Those are eight games that we can't get back. We went out and played all right. We walked too many guys, but we swung the bats OK."