Catcher Francisco Cervelli provided an on-field defensive wakeup call, then hit a solo home run, leading the Yankees to a 4-2 victory over the Boston Red Sox on Thursday for New York's victory of the season.
Lyle Overbay hit a two-run single in the second inning, and Brett Gardner added a solo home run in the third to give the Yankees an early 3-0 lead. Cervelli added a blast off reliever Clayton Mortensen that bounced off of the back wall of the Red Sox bullpen in the seventh, putting New York in front 4-1.
Yankees left-hander Andy Pettitte (1-0) struggled early with his command in the chilly Bronx weather, giving up first-inning singles to Shane Victorino and Mike Napoli. With two outs, Pettitte bounced a pitch past Cervelli that rolled to the backstop. As Cervelli slowly retrieved the ball, Victorino came around third and headed toward home. Cervelli recovered in time to tag Victorino head-first and end the inning.
Pettitte's shutout bid was broken up in the seventh by rookie Jackie Bradley Jr.'s RBI double.
Pettitte scattered eight hits in eight innings, giving up one run and striking out three. Mariano Rivera made his season debut in the ninth, earning the save despite allowing Will Middlebrooks' run-scoring groundout.
Right-hander Ryan Dempster lost his Red Sox debut, and he remains winless against the Yankees in his career despite his eight-strikeout performance.
He allowed three runs on five hits and four walks in five innings.
Boston won the series' first two games, 8-2 Monday and 7-4 Wednesday.
NOTES: The Red Sox head to Toronto for a three-game series against the Blue Jays that begins tonight. Boston left-hander Felix Doubront will start against Toronto right-hander Josh Johnson. The Red Sox play their home opener Monday against the Baltimore Orioles. ... The Yankees begin a three-game home series today against the defending American League champion Detroit Tigers. New York's Ivan Nova will face Detroit's Doug Fister in a battle of right-handers.