For the second consecutive start, Phil Hughes didn't give the short-handed Yankees much to go on, lifted after facing four batters in the third inning -- all of whom came around to score.
For Hughes, who used to pay his way into the venerable ballpark as a transplanted California youth soaking up New England baseball, it was a first appearance on Yawkey Way that went by quicker than he would have hoped -- the shortest outing, in fact, of his brief big league career. Hughes lasted just two-plus innings, allowing seven of Boston's eight runs.
"I don't make too much of it," Yankees manager Joe Girardi said. "Obviously it's not where we want him to be. He'll get better. He'll get where he needs to be. I have faith. I believe in my guys."
The youngest pitcher in the Major Leagues at 21, Hughes has had something of a rough beginning to his sophomore campaign, struggling after an up-and-down Spring Training. Hughes accepted a no-decision after six good innings on April 3 vs. Toronto but took a loss in the Royals' home opener on Tuesday, lasting just three frames before turning it over to the bullpen.
His appearance on Sunday, before a national television audience, was more like the latter outing, opening on a sour note when the Red Sox scored three times against Hughes in a 39-pitch first inning.
"It's unfortunate when it's back-to-back like these two are, but you've got to keep your head up," Hughes said. "I know everything's going to turn around."
Jacoby Ellsbury walked, stole second and advanced to third on an error, coming home on Manny Ramirez's run-scoring single. Kevin Youkilis lifted a sacrifice fly to score J.D. Drew, and after Sean Casey's ground-rule double, Hughes and Molina were crossed up on a curveball that bounced away for a passed ball, allowing Ramirez to score.
Boston chased Hughes in the third inning by putting another three runs on the board. All four batters Hughes faced in the inning scored as Youkilis and Casey both knocked run-scoring hits. With Ross Ohlendorf relieving, a wild pitch allowed Youkilis to score, and Ellsbury ripped a run-scoring single to right, accounting for Boston's seventh run.
"It's hard when you're going so quick and you want to make three outs with one pitch," Hughes said. "I still know what I need to do. I know I have good stuff and it's there. It's just a matter of getting back to it."
"You know you can't give this club extra baserunners or you're going to be in trouble," Girardi said. "It goes off of the fastball, because you're ahead in the count. When you need a strike, you're able to locate down and away, and [Hughes] hasn't been able to do that his last two outings."
On the flip side, the start didn't go especially swimmingly for Boston's Daisuke Matsuzaka. The right-hander allowed four runs on five hits over five innings, walking six and striking out two. In the third, Johnny Damon walked and stole second for the second time in the game -- this after New York had gone without a stolen base in its first 12 games.
Bobby Abreu smacked a run-scoring double off the Green Monster in the third. In the fourth, Molina added an RBI double -- his third of the series -- and Alberto Gonzalez, filling in again for the injured Derek Jeter, came through with an RBI single that proved costly when Molina injured his left hamstring sliding home. Molina would grit it out for another three innings before leaving for a pinch-runner.
"It's frustrating," said Alex Rodriguez, who went 2-for-13 in the series. "We came out of camp in such great shape and guys were playing really well. To have starters down is something you have to deal with, but [it's] better in April than June, July, August."
In the seventh, Jason Giambi cut Boston's lead to two runs with his second home run of the series off Mike Timlin, blasting a ball over the right-field wall and into the Yankees' bullpen.
New York continued to threaten in the eighth as Timlin allowed singles to Molina and pinch-hitter Melky Cabrera, but Javier Lopez got Damon to bounce into a 4-3 double play and induced Cano to ground out, ending the inning. The Yankees left another nine men on base Sunday and have yet to score more than six runs in a game.
"Things aren't going good for the whole team," Cano said. "It could have been a different game."
Going to Posada for the eighth affected the next inning with Farnsworth pitching, as Posada had to move behind the plate to catch. Guarding his shoulder, Posada allowed Crisp to steal second base uncontested before he moved up on a flyout and scored on Ellsbury's sacrifice fly.
"We've got to keep battling and looking forward to tomorrow, whoever the nine guys out there are," Posada said. "We've got to try to win a ballgame. It's going to be tough and it's been tough. We've got to keep fighting."