BOSTON (AP) — The Yankees were hoping a faster start might help them find a way to slow down the rival Red Sox.
Instead, Boston beat up on their best pitcher on the way to posting its most-lopsided win of the series.
Kiké Hernández and Rafael Devers homered in the first inning as Boston hammered Gerrit Cole, routing New York 9-2 Sunday to complete a second straight sweep of its longtime rivals.
J.D. Martinez and Christian Vázquez also homered for the Red Sox. Boston outscored the Yankees 18-7 in the three-game series at Fenway Park, improving to 6-0 against them this year and improving to a season-best 16 games above .500. It was Boston’s first time sweeping New York in consecutive series since 2011.
With the Rays’ loss Sunday on the road to the Angels, the Red Sox moved back into first place in the AL East.
“All around probably the best series we’ve played the whole season,” manager Alex Cora said. “We played defense. We ran the bases well. We put pressure on them and we got timely hitting.”
Eduardo Rodriguez (6-4) was solid in earning his first win in nine starts. He gave up a two-run homer to Aaron Judge in the sixth but held New York to five hits and struck out eight in six innings.
“That’s what we’ve got to do with every team,” Rodriguez said.
Cole (8-4) allowed six runs on eight hits, including three homers, in five innings. He walked two, struck out six and threw a wild pitch.
Cole’s spin rates have slipped in recent starts, adding to speculation he’s had trouble adjusting to MLB’s recent crackdown on pitchers using substances to get traction on balls. He was checked by umpires for sticky stuff after giving up four runs and four hits in the first inning.
He said he was never able to locate his pitches where he wanted.
“I think everybody was well aware of the importance of the game,” Cole said. “It’s a pretty brutal feeling to let the team down like that.”
Boston quickly put Cole and the Yankees in a hole.
Hernández jumped on Cole’s first pitch of the game — a 96 mph fastball — and drove it just over the top of the Green Monster for his seventh home run of the season. It marked the first time Cole had allowed a homer on his first pitch of a game.
Alex Verdugo then doubled and Martinez drew a walk. Xander Bogaerts flied out, but three pitches later Devers got ahold of Cole’s 100 mph four-seam fastball and crushed a drive 450 feet into the right-field seats for his 19th home run of the season.
“That crooked number was hard for us obviously to overcome,” Yankees manager Aaron Boone said.
Never before in Cole’s nine major league seasons had he surrendered multiple homers in the first inning.
“After we scored those four runs, my mind was just go out there and put zero on the board,” Rodriguez said.
Things got worse in the third when Martinez sat on Cole’s knuckle-curve and roped his 15th home run of the year to straightaway center to make it 5-0.
Trailing 6-2. New York loaded the bases with one out in the seventh. But Garrett Whitlock struck out DJ LeMahieu looking and got Judge to pop out to shallow right.
Whitlock said he hopes this series can be a spark for the Red Sox moving forward.
“I think the statement is we’re here to win,” Whitlock said. “This isn’t just another year for the Red Sox.”
Yankees: LHP Zack Britton (left hamstring strain) said before the game that he anticipates being ready to return after the minimum 10 days on the injured list.
Red Sox: LHP Chris Sale is set to throw two more innings of live batting practice on Wednesday. He threw 15 pitches in a BP session on Saturday.
“Teams are going to make moves in the upcoming weeks and try to improve. One thing for sure, nobody can trade for Chris Sale, right?” Cora said. “We can add Chris Sale to our equation and we’re very excited about that.”
With two out in the fourth, Gleyber Torres lined a ball off Rodriguez’s thigh, sending the ball trickling onto the infield grass. Rodriguez scooped it and flipped it to first baseman Danny Sanchez, who caught it barehanded in a close play to end the inning.
The play was challenged by New York but upheld on review.
Yankees: RHP Michael King will make his sixth start and 13th appearance of the season in Monday’s series opener against the Angels.
Red Sox: RHP Garrett Richards (4-5, 4.74 ERA) looks to turn the page on his shortest outing of the season when he takes the hill for Boston’s series opener against Kansas City Monday.
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