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Yankees outgunned by rival Red Sox as Carlos Rodon struggles

BOSTON — At least by the high standards the Yankees’ starting rotation has set for itself this season, this was a flop.

Carlos Rodon managed to put the fire under control before it could escalate into a full-blown five-alarm fire, but by that point the damage had already been done.

The Red Sox scored five runs off Rodon in the first two innings, enough to hand the Yankees an 8-4 loss Saturday night at a sold-out Fenway Park.

Rafael Devers erupted in celebration after hitting a two-run double off Carlos Rodon in the top of the second inning of the Yankees’ 8-4 loss to the Red Sox. Getty Images

Rodon has spent much of this season trying to distance himself from a tough 2023 campaign, but his first two innings Saturday were reminiscent of last season’s struggles.

The Red Sox (36-35) made it hard for him, forcing him to throw 62 pitches just to get six outs, and by that point they had scored five runs on seven hits (mostly bullets) and two walks.

The left-hander retired 10 of the final 11 batters he faced over five innings to keep the Yankees (50-23) within striking distance of victory, but the comeback was not complete and the series will end on Sunday night.

Trailing 6-3 going into the eighth inning, the Yankees turned to former teammate Greg Weisert, who had returned in the trade for Alex Verdugo, for a scare.

The team loaded the bases with one out and scored a run on a fielder’s choice by DJ LeMahieu.

But after closer Kenley Jansen came on and got Anthony Volpe out, the Red Sox smashed two more runs in the bottom of the inning to seal the game.

Carlos Rodon, who fell to 9-3, allowed five runs in five innings in the Yankees’ loss. Bob DeChiara – USA TODAY Sports

Rodon entered the night having pitched at least six innings in seven straight games and allowed three runs or less.

But the Red Sox stormed back against him, pounding away at the Green Monster to take a 3-0 lead into the bottom of the first inning.

Jarren Duran led off with a double that bounced off the wall, and Tyler O’Neill followed with a monster double down the line to score.

After Rafael Devers walked, Connor Wong singled to center field to make the score 2-0.

In the top of the seventh inning, with the Yankees losing, Masataka Yoshida slid safely into home plate before being tagged out by Jose Trevino. Bob DeChiara – USA TODAY Sports

One out later, Jamie Westbrook (who will play for the Yankees at Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre in 2023) hit another double that hit the 37-foot-2 wall in left field to extend the lead to 3-0.

Rodon escaped further damage with two outs, but needed 30 pitches to finish the inning.

The Yankees responded with two runs in the top of the second against Cooper Criswell, battling back with a single by Giancarlo Stanton and a walk by Anthony Rizzo.

With two outs, LeMahieu singled to right field, sending both runners home to cut the lead to 3-2.

After hitting a fly ball to right field with two runners on in the eighth inning of a Yankees loss, Anthony Volpe, who was 0-for-5, slammed his bat in frustration. AP

However, the Red Sox continued to attack Rodon in the bottom of the inning and regained a three-run lead.

With a runner on first and two outs, Rafael Devers smashed a double into the left-center field gap to add two runs and make the score 5-2.

Rodon settled down from there and finished with his most efficient inning of the night in the fifth.

Manager Aaron Boone appeared to plan on removing Rodon after the fourth inning, when he threw 98 pitches, but Rodon managed to start the fifth inning and earned a 1-2-3 shutout victory in 11 pitches.

Aaron Judge hit a home run with a broken bat in the bottom of the seventh inning of a Yankees loss. Getty Images

The Yankees got rid of Criswell in the fourth inning and appeared ready to attack the Red Sox relief staff in the top of the fifth.

An error and two walks created a bases-loaded opportunity with one out against reliever Justin Slayton.

However, the inning quickly stalled as Alex Verdugo hit a grounder on a fielder’s choice to get the Red Sox out at home plate and then Stanton struck out to load the bases.

Juan Soto hit his 18th home run of the season, a monster seventh inning solo home run that put the Yankees up 5-3.

But Ron Marinaccio gave up a run in the bottom of the inning, and the Red Sox quickly regained a three-run lead.