BOSTON -- Felix Doubront said emphatically following his last start that a career-high innings workload had not made him tired. He proved it on Thursday night against the Yankees, firing 6 1/3 innings in a tough-luck, 2-0 loss.
The Red Sox couldn't muster any firepower in this one, dropping the rubber match of a three-game series against the Yankees to finish the homestand at 1-5.
Playing without Dustin Pedroia -- not to mention David Ortiz and Will Middlebrooks -- this was not a representative Boston lineup.
Phil Hughes preyed on the undermanned Sox, tossing 7 1/3 shutout innings and striking out seven.
"Well, Hughes pitched up in the strike zone and we couldn't lay off of it," said Red Sox manager Bobby Valentine. "We made a lot of quick outs swinging at some of those pitches. We were a little immature in our approach at times."
Cody Ross had no qualms with his manager's assessment.
"Absolutely, I mean, I fall victim, a lot of guys are falling victim to it, just not putting together quality at-bats, not grinding," said Ross. "When you do that, you get quick outs, and it's one thing to be aggressive, but another thing to be smart about it."
Over the last 15 games, Valentine's team has won just twice. Now it's on to Toronto, to start a seven-game road trip against the Blue Jays and Rays.
"I think it's human nature to get aggressive and try to do more than you can when you're down and trying to win," said Red Sox catcher Jarrod Saltalamacchia. "But you know, we're just trying to battle right now. We had a pitcher go out there tonight who threw a great game -- we just couldn't get any runs for him. On the other hand, their pitcher went out there and was just throwing strikes."
Meanwhile, by taking two out of three in Boston, the Yankees were able to stay in a first-place tie in the American League East with the surging Baltimore Orioles.
It was a weird vibe for a Red Sox-Yankees series, in that Boston is 64-80, while every game is crucial for New York.
"To be honest, the atmosphere was a little dull in here for the first time in a long time, because of the way the Red Sox season has gone this year," said Hughes. "If anything, it just felt like a normal game. We just had to go out and win. We got two out of three here, we have to go home and have a tough series against the Rays. We have to get it done."
Doubront gave up four hits and two runs, walking five and striking out five. He looked sharper than he's been in weeks.
With so much recent focus on whether or not Doubront was fatigued, it was interesting that he felt his turnaround in this one was just about all due to the mental side of the game.
"The preparation and my five-day routine," said Doubront. "Five days ago, I was just trying to think less and make pitches. That's what I did. That was more the mental part that I worked on in my five-day routines."
The lefty is 10-9 with a 5.11 ERA, and he thinks his first full season as a starter in the Majors is something he can build on.
"This year, the first half was very good, and then I got to struggling in the second half, and I learned from that," said Doubront. "I got a lot of challenges to see, and I think I responded well. I think the second half wasn't that good, but I just want to finish strong and get them next year."
The Yankees rallied for the first time in the top of the fourth. Alex Rodriguez led off with a single, and Robinson Cano and Russell Martin followed with walks. Considering it was a bases-loaded, nobody-out jam, the damage could have been a lot worse. But the only run New York got was a sacrifice fly off the bat of Andruw Jones.
The Red Sox, minus Pedroia (who was celebrating the birth of his son), were no-hit through 3 2/3 innings. With Scott Podsednik already on board via a walk, Ross broke up the no-hitter, lacing a single to left. But Daniel Nava grounded out, ending the threat.
Pedroia is expected to return at some point this weekend in Toronto, when the Red Sox play a three-game series against the Blue Jays.
"He's one of the best players in baseball," said Valentine. "There's a few of them that are out of that lineup. We miss him. We hope he hurries back."
Hughes was pleased Pedroia didn't rush back and play Thursday.
"That's not their A-lineup, it's not the lineup that they saw themselves having this time of year, but that doesn't make them any less dangerous," said Hughes. "This is a tough park to play in and wacky things happen, so you can't take anything for granted. We just had to go out and win this game, and thankfully we were able to do that."
Boston had another two-on, two-out rally in the sixth, but Hughes worked out of that one as well, getting Ross on a flyout to shallow right.
Doubront lasted until the seventh, when the bottom of the order started a rally. Steve Pearce drew a one-out walk. No. 9 hitter Eduardo Nunez lined a single to left. Out came Valentine and in came reliever Junichi Tazawa.
As he has a legendary knack for doing, Derek Jeter got the job done when it counted, blooping a single into short center to get an insurance run home, making it 2-0 in favor of New York. Not only did Jeter come up with a big hit for his team, but he accomplished an impressive milestone with career hit No. 3,283, trying Willie Mays for 10th on baseball's all-time hits list.
"It's tough, you know. That's unfortunately the way it goes," said Saltalamacchia. "He's a great hitter. He's gotten a lot of hits like that, but you know, we kept him off the bases earlier and we gave ourselves every opportunity to win, we just didn't score any runs."
Meanwhile, the Red Sox can only hope a turnaround of some sort is in store on the upcoming road trip.
"It's not easy to come here [and] get beat every day," said Ross. "We've got to try to turn it around."