NEW YORK Koji Uehara turned, watched Mark Teixeira’s home run land in the second deck, bent over, raised his head and shook it from side to side.
Ten pitches later, he looked down glumly and glanced briefly at Chase Headley’s homer heading toward the right-field bleachers. He took off his glove, spit, wiped sweat off his face with his sleeve and ran his left hand through his hair twice. Then he walked to the third base dugout.
On the verge of a one-run win, the Boston Red Sox left New York with a 5-4 loss to the Yankees on Thursday night.
“Any time you give up a lead in the fashion we did, those are tough games to take,” manager John Farrell said.
MVP of the AL championship series during Boston’s World Series title run last year, Uehara was 4-2 with a 1.27 ERA and 26 saves in 28 chances through Aug. 15. He is 1-3 with a 19.29 ERA since then, allowing runs in five of six appearances and blowing save opportunities against Seattle, Toronto and New York.
After Uehara allowed Edwin Encarnacion’s tying, two-run double at Toronto on Aug. 25, a game the Red Sox rebounded to win in the 10th, the team rested its All-Star closer until Tuesday’s series opener at Yankee Stadium. And then came the latest meltdown.
“We’ve given Koji eight days off, got him an inning of work the other night, and still the lack of finish to his split is what allowed a couple of pitches to hang in the middle of the plate for a couple of home runs,” Farrell said.
With Boston headed to a last-place finish in the AL East, Farrell raised the possibility Uehara’s season might be over.
“We’ll talk with Koji first,” he said. “What our plan will be and whether that’s more extended rest, whether that’s the potential of shutting him down – uh, we just walked off the field, and out of respect for Koji and out of respect for what he’s done for us for two outstanding years, I’m not in position to announce that right now.”
David Ortiz homered twice off Chris Capuano as the Red Sox built a 3-0 lead in the first three innings. After Derek Jeter hit a two-run double off Brandon Workman and scored on Carlos Beltran’s single in the third, Brock Holt put Boston ahead 4-3 with a fifth-inning homer, his first in the big leagues off a left-hander. The drive bounced off the top of the right-field wall, just over Ichiro Suzuki’s outstretched glove, and into the seats.
The second baseman then made a sliding catch with his back to home plate on Jacoby Ellsbury’s popup in short center leading off the bottom half, with center fielder Mookie Betts and shortstop Xander Bogaerts also closing in.
“Whenever your back’s turned from home plate and you’re running full speed, that’s probably one of the toughest catches to make,” Holt said.
Rich Hill, Esmil Rogers, Josh Outman, Shawn Kelley and Adam Warren (3-5) combined for 4 2-3 innings of one-hit relief, keeping the Yankees within one run.
New York had just one hit since the third before Teixeira fouled off a 2-2 pitch, then drove Uehara’s hanging splitter into the second deck in right field.
“He’s just leaving some pitches up,” Holt said. “It’s a long season. Obviously, we all know what he’s capable of doing, and nobody’s lost hope in him or lost faith in him. He’s one of the better closers in the game.”
After Brian McCann flied out, Headley worked the count to 3-2 and homered on another splitter from Uehara (6-5).
“That’s how the game goes,” Ortiz said. “Sometimes they get you. Sometimes you get them.”
Workman lost his previous eight appearances, including seven starts. He gave up three runs and five hits in six innings, remaining winless since June 10 at Baltimore.
“It may not have been the biggest numbers I’ve ever put up, but I felt it was coming out of my hand well and, more importantly, I was keeping the ball down for the most part today,” Workman said. “I was throwing all four pitches down in the zone for the most part.”