NEW YORK — Daniel Bard trotted in from the bullpen in the seventh inning knowing he was facing a most sticky situation - and it had nothing to do with the sultry weather.
Worse. The bases were loaded, Derek Jeter was the batter, and the Boston Red Sox were clinging to a two-run lead over the New York Yankees.
"You don't want to be the guy that gives it up," said Bard, a former UNC star. "Also you want to see where your stuff takes you."
Bard's stuff was stellar.
Bard pumped six pitches past Jeter and Nick Swisher, reaching 99 mph several times while striking them out, and the Red Sox went on to a 2-1 victory Monday over the Yankees that ended Jon Lester's career-worst four-game skid.
"Exciting," Lester said. "He did a great job executing pitches that inning."
Closer Jonathan Papelbon struck out three in 11/3 innings for the save, and Jacoby Ellsbury tied a team record with four steals as Boston took the finale of the wraparound series that had four different start times because of national TV demands.
The win locked up a split of the series and ensured the third-place Red Sox remained six games behind AL East-leading New York, their standing when the set began.
"A lot of good things happened today or we don't win that game," manager Terry Francona said. "That was one of the funnest days of baseball."
Ellsbury got his first hit in 17 at-bats since coming off the DL on Aug. 4. Dropped to the ninth spot in the order after leading off in his first 13 games this season, he had one of three straight singles in a two-run second and matched the single-game Red Sox record for stolen bases set by Jerry Remy.
Lester (12-7) didn't give up a hit until Austin Kearns singled with one out in the fifth inning, and was lifted for Bard with the bases loaded and one out in the seventh.
Mark Teixeira hit one of those fastballs from Bard in the eighth inning into the second deck for his 26th home run, and Alex Rodriguez followed with a single to awaken the crowd of 49,476. But after an out and a walk to Jorge Posada, Bard got pinch-hitter Lance Berkman on a popup to shallow left.
Papelbon came on and induced Kearns into a groundout to second base. He waked Jeter with one out in the ninth, and the Yankees captain stole second. But the Boston closer struck out Swisher and Teixeira for his 28th save in 33 chances.
The Yankees went 3-4 on their homestand. They head to Texas for a showdown between first-place teams.