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J.A. Happ bounces back, Yankees take series opener from Red Sox

Aaron Hicks and DJ LeMahieu each drove in a pair of runs to help extend New York’s lead in the AL East race.

Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports

Some fans may have been disappointed when weather forced the rescheduling of yesterday’s series opener versus the Red Sox to August, but the rainout actually helped the Yankees. Manager Aaron Boone got five gutsy innings of one-run ball from starting pitcher J.A. Happ, and then went to a well-rested bullpen to nail down the win, as New York defeated Boston 4-1 at Yankee Stadium.

The Bombers got all the runs they needed in the bottom of the third inning. With his team trailing 1-0, Gio Urshela led off the frame with a single to center field. Brett Gardner followed with a one-out knock, and DJ LeMahieu drove Urshela in with a long double over everyone’s head and into the right-center field gap. Aaron Hicks then singled Gardner and LeMahieu home to give the Yankees a 3-1 lead. LeMahieu added a solo homer in the fifth, his sixth of the year, to complete the Yankees’ scoring.

Happ got off to a bit of a tenuous start. He allowed three of the first eight Red Sox batters to reach, including a long home run by Rafael Devers. The solo shot to begin the second inning soared over the right-center field bullpen and into the bleachers, giving Boston a quick 1-0 lead. But Happ settled down, retiring the side in both the third and fourth innings.

The left-hander, however, found himself in the soup again in the fifth. With the Yankees clinging to a 3-1 lead, former Yankee Eduardo Nunez singled to start the frame and advanced to second on a Jackie Bradley Jr. groundout. Happ struck out Sandy Leon swinging, and then issued an intentional walk to Mookie Betts after falling behind 3-0 in the count. But catcher Gary Sanchez caught Nunez snoozing off second base, and nailed him out to end the Red Sox threat.

Boone then went to his big arms in the bullpen. Adam Ottavino, Tommy Kahnle, Zack Britton, and Aroldis Chapman each pitched scoreless frames to complete the victory. Happ improves his record to 5-3, Chris Sale falls to 1-7, and Chapman notched his 16th save. The Rays lost to Minnesota, so the Yankees (37-19) increase their lead to 1.5 games over Tampa Bay in the AL East race, while Boston drops to 8.5 out.

Join us tomorrow, as the Yankees send Domingo German (9-1, 3.43 ERA) to the hill to face off against Rick Porcello (4-4, 4.41 ERA). First pitch is set for 7:15 PM EDT.