Suzuki's stellar scamper salvages series

NEW YORK -- If you ask Ichiro Suzuki, his baserunning heroics on Sunday weren't "anything special."

But they meant everything to the Yankees.

With the Bombers staring down the reality of an embarrassing sweep at the hands of the Red Sox, Suzuki came up huge.

He singled with one out in the ninth, stole second, went to third on a tag-up and scored on a wild pitch to give New York a gift 4-3 win.

According to Elias, Ichiro's run gave the Yankees their first walk-off win on a wild pitch since Sept. 27, 1977, when Thurman Munson scored on a wild pitch.

"Really big," Joe Girardi said.

But it was bigger than that.

The victory helped the Yankees keep pace in the wild-card race. They began the series against the Red Sox on Thursday 2½ games back of the second wild-card spot. And, somehow, despite losing three of four to Boston, they will be no more than 2½ games back of that second wild-card spot when they wake up on Monday.

"We needed it," Girardi said of Sunday's win. "Because we had some pretty tough games in the last few days, and you want to finish the homestand right."

Make no mistake: With just 17 games to play, the Yankees still have plenty of ground to make up if they want to get in the playoffs.

But the task is a little less daunting thanks to Suzuki's stellar baserunning on Sunday.

His winning scamper also let Mariano Rivera off the hook.

Rivera allowed a game-tying homer in the ninth inning to Will Middlebrooks while attempting to convert a two-inning save. It was Rivera's seventh blown save of the season, his highest total since 2001.

But Mo's meltdown turned into a footnote thanks to Suzuki, who scored the winning run with ease courtesy of a wild pitch from Boston reliever Brandon Workman.

"If I had an opportunity, I was going to take it," Suzuki said. "It wasn't anything special."

There are a few guys in the Yankees' clubhouse who'd probably disagree with Suzuki on that.