NEW YORK -- A broken-bat hit by the Boston Red Sox, a broken opportunity for Mariano Rivera and the New York Yankees.
Stephen Drew looped a tying single off the all-time saves leader with two outs in the ninth inning, then Shane Victorino lined a go-ahead single in the 10th that sent the Red Sox past the Yankees 9-8 in a Thursday night thriller.
"We just blew it," Rivera said.
Down to their last strike against Rivera, the Red Sox rallied in the opener of a four-game series loaded with playoff implications.
It felt like a playoff matchup, too, especially after New York erased a 7-2 deficit with six runs in the seventh. There were plenty of pitching changes and pinch-hitters and a key pinch-runner, plus an outburst - Joba Chamberlain (2-1) was ejected by first base umpire Joe West, who ruled Victorino checked his swing right before the big hit.
"It's frustrating because, you know what, I thought he went. But you have to be able to overcome things," Yankees manager Joe Girardi said.
The Red Sox own the best record in the AL, and won for the 10th time in 12 games. The Yankees had their three-game winning stopped in a loss that dented their push for a wild-card spot.
This was the start of an 11-day stretch in which the longtime rivals will face each other seven times.
Rivera entered with an 8-7 lead and got two quick outs. But Mike Napoli singled on a full count and pinch-runner Quintin Berry stole second, continuing to third when catcher Austin Romine's errant throw bounced away.
Drew singled over second baseman Robinson Cano and handed Rivera his sixth blown save in 47 tries, a day after the closer was needed for four outs.
"I was fine," Rivera said. "A broken bat over Cano's head. I mean, you cannot do nothing with that. Part of the game. We got the opportunity. We just can't get it done."
"Again, part of the game. Sometimes they hit the ball hard and it's right at someone. Sometimes, it's a broken bat that falls where you don't need it to. But yeah, it was tough one," he said.
Jacoby Ellsbury singled with one out in the 10th off Chamberlain and stole second. Victorino held up on a half-swing, West ruled, and then lined a single that sent Ellsbury scooting home. Right fielder Ichiro Suzuki made a strong throw, but Romine couldn't handle it.
"We battled back. We did everything we needed to do to get it. Obviously, we've got to come out tomorrow with three games left and continue from pitch one to get out there," Chamberlain said.
As for what he told West? "Enough to get me ejected," he said.
Craig Breslow (5-2) wound up with the win. He helped himself by picking off Alfonso Soriano at second base with one out in the ninth.
"You can't get thrown out," Girardi said.
Koji Uehara earned his 18th save, extending his scoreless streak to 26 innings over 23 games.
Lyle Overbay's two-out, two-run single capped a six-run rally in the seventh that put the Yankees ahead 8-7. Down 7-2, New York broke loose against starter Jake Peavy and relievers Matt Thornton and Junichi Tazawa.
The Yankees also stole a season-high six bases.
New York has been charging hard ever since Boston's Ryan Dempster drilled Alex Rodriguez with a pitch in mid-August. This was the first game since that dustup at Fenway Park.
A day after a 20-4 romp over Detroit in which it tied a team mark with eight home runs, the highest-scoring club in the majors kept up the homer barrage behind Will Middlebrooks and Victorino.
Peavy left with two on and none out, and Brett Gardner hit an RBI single off Thornton to get the Yankees to 7-3. Cano, who drove in three runs, grounded into a bases-loaded forceout that made it 7-4.
Soriano met Tazawa with an RBI single and Curtis Granderson doubled home a run as New York pulled to 7-6. After Alex Rodriguez struck out, Overbay singled cleanly to right field.
Middlebrooks hit a solo homer into the second deck off Ivan Nova for a 3-2 lead in the fourth. Victorino greeted Preston Claiborne with a leadoff homer that began a three-run fifth for a 6-2 lead.
NOTES: Girardi said RHP Shawn Kelley is out until next because of inflammation in his triceps. ... Boston LHP Felix Doubront (10-6, 3.89) starts Friday night vs. LHP Andy Pettitte (10-9, 4.01). ... The Yankees tied a team record with six different players stealing at least one base. The last time it happened was 1916 when Roxy Walters, Wally Pipp, Lee Magee, Frank Gilhooley, Hugh High and Paddy Baumann each swiped one.