Before last night’s game at Yankee Stadium Red Sox general manager Ben Cherington said he had given no thought to the team’s September collapse in 2011. Cherington pointed out that this roster is comprised of a different group of people and it showed last night.

The Red Sox showed the fight that often was lacking two years ago as they recovered after blowing a five-run lead in the seventh inning to emerge with a 9-8 extra-inning win over the Yankees in the opener of a four-game series. The win paired with the second-place Rays’ 6-2 loss to the Angels fattened the Sox’ American League East lead to 61⁄2 games.

The Sox tied the game in the ninth inning against Mariano Rivera before Shane Victorino drove in the winning run in the 10th.
“Just a character win a team win and a lot of guys contributed” manager John Farrell said. “Whether it’s collectively guys reach down to get a little extra they’re doing it and they’re doing it at key moments.”

With one out in the 10th Jacoby Ellsbury singled and stole second. Joba Chamberlain nearly struck out Victorino on a 1-2 slider but first base umpire Joe West ruled Victorino checked his swing.

Victorino slapped the next pitch to right field and Ichiro Suzuki’s laser throw to the plate short-hopped catcher Austin Romine allowing Ellsbury to slide in safely with the eventual winning run.
The roller-coaster victory was capped by steady closer Koji Uehara who worked a perfect 10th inning for his 18th save. Uehara has retired 24 straight batters and pitched 26 consecutive scoreless innings.

“To have the anchor back there it allows everyone to fall in line behind the starter to bridge back to him” Farrell said.

Stephen Drew added perhaps his most impressive clutch hit to a growing collection in the ninth inning. The Sox trailed 8-7 with the indomitable Mariano Rivera on the mound when Mike Napoli slapped a two-out single to center. Quintin Berry came on as a pinch runner and had his Dave Roberts moment stealing second on the first pitch and continuing to third on a throwing error.

With the tying run 90 feet away Drew managed to drop a Rivera cutter into center field to score Berry.

“He’s the best in the game at what he does” Drew said. “He’s been fun to watch on the other side but getting out there with two outs and trying to do your job he makes it tough. It’s just one of those things where it worked out for me tonight.”

Craig Breslow who earned the win threw his second scoreless inning of relief in the ninth to give the Sox the chance to come through with the victory.