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DET@BOS: Lackey pitches into eighth, strikes out five

Time is getting short for the Yankees, and the playoffs are drawing closer for the Red Sox.

New York led late but watched as Boston roared back to take victories in the first two games of this four-game series, and David Huff will be matched against the Sox's John Lackey on Saturday.

The Yankees, who are a half-game behind Baltimore for fourth place in the American League East after Friday's loss, have scored eight runs twice in a row and lost consecutive games for the first time since 1949. The last time they did that twice in a row and lost at home was in 1911 against Cleveland.

And now the Yanks will have to face Lackey, one of the league's most dominant pitchers. Boston scored 12 runs on Friday, and Lackey has the team's lowest-run support figure (3.77 runs per start), but the right-hander has been durable and consistent through his first 25 starts of the season.

The Red Sox have been shut out six times when Lackey starts, but he's held the opposition to three earned runs or less in all but five of his outings. The 34-year-old has given Boston a valuable presence after missing the entire 2012 campaign while recovering from Tommy John surgery.

"The fact that he's maintaining arm strength goes back to his work ethic and what he did in the offseason," said Boston manager John Farrell. "The fact that he had surgery so late in his career, we weren't overly concerned by the number of innings he would bounce back and return to throw this year."

Huff, making his first big league start of the year, has pitched to a 3.32 ERA in nine relief appearances split between Cleveland and New York. The left-hander went 4-7 with a 3.90 ERA in 22 games split between the two team's Triple-A affiliates, and he's glad to be starting in a pennant race.

"For me, it's just another start," said Huff, the 39th overall selection in the 2006 First-Year Player Draft. "I'm not going to try and play it up to make it anything different. Because when that happens, I'll probably end up getting a little too fine with my pitches instead of just attacking guys."

The Yankees are now 10 games out of first place in the AL East, but they're 5-3 on their current homestand and 5-9 this season against the Red Sox. Hiroki Kuroda and Jon Lester will be matched up in Sunday's series finale, and both teams are playing with the urgency befitting the playoff race.

"They're pretty disciplined hitters," said Huff. "I think what we had trouble with was going ball one, ball two, and they you're falling behind and trying to work back into the count. ... I think if we just maintain that aggressiveness, get after these hitters and put them in a hole, we'll get some swing and misses."

Red Sox: Uehara closing with aplomb
Credit closer Koji Uehara with a perfect game of sorts. Uehara has retired 27 consecutive batters over his last nine games and has not allowed an earned run or a home run since June 30. The right-hander has managed to retire 79 of the last 86 batters that he's faced over his past 24 appearances.

Uehara last gave up a hit on Aug. 17, and his 27-batter streak started that same day with a game-ending popup. The veteran has 10 strikeouts with no walks over his 27-batter streak. Two of those strikeouts came Thursday, when Uehara got Alfonso Soriano and Robinson Cano to end the game.

Yankees: Soriano going yard
Soriano continues to pay dividends for the Yankees. Soriano homered again on Friday and has now gone deep 13 times in 39 games since arriving from the Cubs in a midseason trade. Soriano's latest homer was his 30th, which marks his seventh season reaching that statistical peak.

Worth noting
• The Red Sox batted around in the seventh and eighth innings on Friday night en route to the game's final nine runs.

• Will Middlebrooks homered for the third straight night on Friday.

• Mariano Rivera has 41 saves this season and nine seasons with 40, tying Trevor Hoffman's all-time record.

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