In their final game before the All-Star break, the Yankees beat the Red Sox, 7-3, on Sunday night at Fenway Park. It was New York's eighth straight victory in a series finale on the road and it completed a 4-3 road trip.
The Yankees took three out of four games from their rivals and enter the break with the Major League's best record at 52-33. New York also has the Major's largest division lead, a seven-game advantage over the Orioles in the American League East.
"We wanted to finish strong, obviously, with four days off," said shortstop Derek Jeter. "We've been playing good now for it seems like quite a long time. It definitely feels good to win."
It's been a one-sided rivalry so far in 2012. The Yankees improved to 5-1 against the Red Sox and 9-5 in their last 14 games against clubs currently .500 or better.
"We haven't played the Yankees in a while, but I noticed this weekend that you can't make mistakes when you play against them," said Red Sox slugger David Ortiz. "You make a mistake they'll make you pay. That's how good teams are."
Andruw Jones left his mark at Fenway Park with his fourth home run in three games. Jones crushed a two-run homer over the Green Monster in the seventh inning. He also totaled three solo shots during Saturday's doubleheader.
"I saw a couple pitches to hit and I did not miss them," said Jones, who entered the series with just three homers in 91 career at-bats at Fenway Park.
Ivan Nova also finished his successful first half with a solid outing. The right-hander struck out 10 over six innings, scattering six hits and allowing two runs (one earned).
"I was setting up my pitches, using my fastball so by the time I got to my curveball the hitter had my fastball in his mind so I could put them away with my breaking ball," Nova said.
The right-hander has a career-high 10 wins at the break.
"Now I'm looking for 10 more," he said. "It's really a good first half not only for me, but for the team, too. We're just trying to come back from the All-Star break and do the same."
Jeter had a forgettable night on defense, but he made up for it with three hits and a run scored.
Jeter dropped a routine pop up in the first inning, allowing Pedro Ciriaco to score the first run for the Red Sox. In the third, the Yankees' captain misplayed a slow ground ball from Ciriaco, who later scored on a double from Ortiz.
"Well, I wish I had a good story for you, say a bird hit it or something, but it basically was a pop up and I dropped it," Jeter said. "Nothing else to say. I think I've done it one other time in my career that I can remember. I don't know. I just dropped it. I had two hands and it didn't go in the glove or my hand. It's probably the most embarrassing that can happen to a player on defense. I just dropped it, but Nova did a good job getting out of it."
The Yankees jumped on the board early once again, scoring two runs in the first inning. New York scored 14 runs in the first inning in the series, including five on Friday night. New York has scored in the first inning in eight of its past nine games, totaling 23 runs.
"I just think our guys came out swinging," said manager Joe Girardi. "We took advantage of some mistakes and got leads, and those are important."
This time, Mark Teixeira lined an RBI double to left field that scored Jeter.
"It's always good to score first," Jones said. "It gives our pitcher a chance to relax. That's the big advantage."
The Yankees stretched their lead to 5-2 in the fifth. Alex Rodriguez crushed an RBI triple to the triangle in center field and Jones continued his strong series with a run-scoring single.
Rodriguez's triple sent Red Sox center fielder Ryan Sweeney crashing into the wall in center as he attempted to track down the ball. He went head first into the padding and stayed on the ground for a few minutes. Sweeney, who came off the disabled list on Saturday, remained in the game after the training staff checked on him.
New York chased Red Sox starter Jon Lester in the fifth. The left-hander allowed five runs on nine hits over 4 1/3 innings.
Robinson Cano enters the break with a 15-game hitting streak. He doubled in his last at-bat to tie Jeter for the longest streak for a Yankees player this year. Cano is hitting .393 (24-for-61) with five homers and 16 RBIs during the stretch.
Austin Laymance is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.