NEW YORK -- The long arm of the law reached into the Red Sox clubhouse Tuesday afternoon when Jonathan Papelbon learned he had been suspended for three games by CSI: MLB, the commissioner's office deciding Papelbon was guilty of "inappropriate actions, including making contact'' with plate umpire Tony Randazzo following his ejection Saturday.
MLB almost never announces whether it has disciplined its umpires, a matter of some interest in certain precincts, including Papelbon's locker, there being sentiment that the umpire had been a provocateur, coming out from behind the plate after Papelbon had already turned his back. Or as one emailer complained Tuesday night, "When will they ever suspend an ump for egging a player on?''
However, this being America, where due process gets its, well, due, Papelbon at least was given the right to appeal, which kept him in uniform for Boston's second visit of the season to the Bronx.
The way Tuesday night's game started, it looked like Papelbon's services would not be required, as the Sox smacked around Freddy Garcia from jump street, Jacoby Ellsbury hitting the fifth pitch of the night for a home run, his first to lead off a game since 2008. Dustin Pedroia walked, Adrian Gonzalez tripled and Kevin Youkilis hit a sacrifice fly, and the Sox were ahead 3-0 before the high rollers made it to their seats behind home plate from their fancy supper club below.
But even with the Sox tacking on more runs -- Pedroia doubled home a run in the second, and David Ortiz cranked a two-run homer in the fifth -- the night was a grind, especially for Jon Lester. The Sox left-hander was crazy wild in the first inning, when he kneecapped Mark Teixeira with a pitch, the Yankees' first baseman needing help to leave the field. Lester hit Russell Martin in almost the same spot and walked Curtis Granderson but was able to Copperfield his way out of the inning with just one run allowed because Youlkilis made a terrific play at third on Nick Swisher.
The Yankees kept the pressure on Lester in every inning and finally broke through with a pair of runs in the fifth on three hits, including a two-run double by Swisher that made it 6-3.
Lester finally had a 1-2-3 inning in the sixth, but by then, his pitch count was up to 112 and he was done for the night.
Bobby Jenks then entered, but he was forced to leave four pitches into his outing when he hurt his back -- or, at least that's what he could be seen saying to catcher Jarrod Saltalamacchia. Matt Albers had to get ready in a hurry and upon entering threw ball four to Jorge Posada after inheriting a 3-and-1 count. A fly ball and a double-play grounder by Robinson Cano, and Albers handed the game over to Daniel Bard in the eighth.
Bard did his part, setting down the Yankees in order, and after Ellsbury was cut down trying to stretch a double into a triple on a sensational relay -- Granderson to Cano to A-Rod -- Red Sox manager Terry Francona dialed up Papelbon, still a free man, even if the crowd of 48,450 greeted him like someone making his perp walk.
Papelbon ratcheted up the pressure on himself by walking pinch hitter Brett Gardner, then falling behind 3-and-1 to Derek Jeter, whose every hit now is part of a personal countdown to history (3,000 hits). But Jeter was jammed and flied out weakly to right, and Granderson struck out, leaving only Jorge Posada between the Sox and victory.
Posada, playing only because Teixeira got hurt, sliced an opposite-field single to left, his third hit of the night, making it 6-4 and bringing up Rodriguez, who a year ago May had taken Papelbon deep for a ninth-inning, game-tying home run.
But this time, A-Rod waved at a 97 mph fastball, and Papelbon was the one who wound up staking a claim to history. This was his 12th save of the season and 200th of his career, a number he reached faster than any other reliever. Papelbon got there in 359 games. Yankees closer Mariano Rivera did it in 382. Since becoming the Sox closer in 2006, Papelbon has more saves than any other closer except Francisco Rodriguez.
The win drew the Sox into a virtual first-place tie with the Yankees and was their sixth win in seven meetings with the Bombers this season, including four in a row here.