Boston Red Sox

BOSTON – The acquisition of Steve Pearce continues to pay off in a big way for the Red Sox.

The first baseman smashed three home runs as the Red Sox cruised to a 15-7 win over the Yankees Thursday. With the win, Boston moves six and a half games ahead of New York in the American League East.

Pearce homered in the third inning off Yankees starter C.C. Sabathia, then took reliever Jonathan Holder deep in the fourth with a three-run shot that put the Sox ahead for good. He capped off his night with a home run off a Green Monster light tower in the sixth inning.

Pearce became the first Red Sox hitter to record three homers in a game against the Yankees since Kevin Millar in 2004.

No Red Sox player has ever hit four home runs in a game.

The Sox fell behind early as Brian Johnson gave up a three-run homer to Didi Gregorious in the first and Aaron Hicks in the second. Boston squandered opportunities in the second and third innings, leaving the bases loaded and then stranding runners at second and third.

But the floodgates opened in the bottom of the fourth.

With Boston trailing 4-2, Jackie Bradley Jr. ended up caught between third and home on a comebacker to the pitcher. Holder threw to third base to try and get the centerfielder, giving Bradley the opportunity to break for home. He beat the throw on a nifty slide, stealing a run for the Red Sox and keeping the first out of the frame off the board.

The Sox would score seven more times in the inning, highlighted by the second of Pearce’s home runs.

All seven runs in the fourth were charged to Holder, who recorded no outs, gave up five hits, and walked a man.

Johnson (2-3) took the win, tossing five innings while allowing five runs, four earned. The lefty struck out a career-high 11 batters.

The Sox and Yankees will play game two of their four-game weekend series Friday night. Rick Porcello (13-4, 4.03 ERA) will square off against Luis Severino (14-4, 2.94 ERA).