Bronx, NY (Sports Network) – Jon Lester sat with his head down in the Red Sox dugout, an 8-0 Yankees lead sitting like a cruel joke on the scoreboard.
On a day when Boston needed its ace left-hander to play stopper, he couldn’t even make it out of the third inning.
Derek Jeter belted a three-run homer to cap a six-run second, and New York scored eight times against Lester in just 2 2/3 innings Saturday afternoon, delivering the wild card-leading Red Sox yet another blow with a 9-1 victory.
The Red Sox had their lead trimmed to just two games over the Tampa Bay Rays, who are hosting Toronto on Saturday night with a chance to pull within 1 1/2 games of Boston’s wild-card lead.
Lester (15-9) wasn’t able to press pause on Boston’s epic September slide, losing his third straight start after giving up eight hits and a walk in his shortest outing of the season.
The Red Sox lost for the sixth time in seven games and fell to 5-17 in September.
They will finish their rain-delayed series with a doubleheader Sunday at Yankee Stadium.
Boston’s three-week fall has been so precipitous that Boston, which lead the AL East by 1 1/2 games entering the month, is now one game under .500 (33-34) since the All-Star break.
Meanwhile, the Yankees have already captured the division and are playing for home-field advantage throughout the AL playoffs.
Their promising 21-year-old rookie, Jesus Montero, had a solo homer among his three hits and knocked in four runs while Freddy Garcia (12-8) threw six scoreless innings for his first win in four starts.
But the six batters in between weaved a nightmare for the Red Sox left-hander, culminating in Jeter’s three-run blast for a 6-0 lead.
Robinson Cano and Andruw Jones both singled around a Nick Swisher walk to load the bases for Montero, whose base hit scored the first run. Russell Martin followed with a two-run single and Jeter homered on the very next pitch, reaching out for a fastball and lining it into the right-center field seats.
Despite retiring the first two hitters, Lester couldn’t make it out of the third inning. Swisher and Jones both singled and Montero drove a ball to the wall in left-center, scoring both runners for an 8-0 lead. Scott Atchison then got the call and induced a fly out from Martin to end the frame.
Montero led off the sixth inning with his fourth homer of the season, a blast to right field off Junichi Tazawa that made it 9-0.
|Final - 9.24.2011||1||2||3||4||5||6||7||8||9||R||H||E|
|Boston Red Sox||0||0||0||0||0||0||1||0||0||1||9||0|
|New York Yankees||0||6||2||0||0||1||0||0||X||9||9||1|
|WP: Freddy Garcia (12 - 8)
LP: Jon Lester (15 - 9)