BOSTON -- Kyle Farnsworth couldn't have put himself in a much scarier situation -- bases loaded and Big Papi at the plate.
Farnsworth struck out David Ortiz in the eighth -- the fourth time the slugger fanned Wednesday night -- and New York held on to beat the Boston Red Sox 8-6, overcoming another rocky outing by Randy Johnson.
"If you make pitches against anybody you can get them out," Farnsworth said. "He's definitely been labeled a Yankee killer."
Melky Cabrera, in just his 18th major-league game, was a Red Sox killer with two-run singles in four-run rallies in the second and fifth. Cabrera, who had one career RBI before getting four Wednesday, batted leadoff in place of Johnny Damon, who sat out with an injured foot.
"It's exciting to sit back and watch him," said Kevin Youkilis, whose two-run homer in the second tied the game 4-4. "When he's going good, there's nobody better than him."
Once, that description applied to Johnson (6-4).
But on Wednesday, he allowed at least five runs for the sixth time in eight starts before improving after Jason Varitek's single put Boston ahead 5-4 with no outs in the third. Johnson struck out the next three batters and retired nine of the last 10 he faced before leaving after five innings.
"I hit my spot better later in the game," Johnson said. "It's funny to say this, but what I'm going through, you take anything as a positive. The last three innings were a positive. How much worse can it get?"
Despite his solid finish, his ERA rose from 5.62 to 5.89 while he allowed nine hits and two walks with eight strikeouts.
"Good, bad, good bad," was Torre's take on Johnson's performance. "Sometimes it looked like he was relaxed and just let the ball fly and then at other times he looked like he was trying to make too good of a pitch."
Mariano Rivera pitched the ninth for his 10th save in 11 opportunities.
That "didn't help the cause," said Clement, who underwent X-rays that "looked all right," although he was limping after the game. "I wouldn't have gone out there and pitched if I didn't think I could do it the right way."
Before that, Clement retired the first five batters then walked Robinson Cano. After a visit to the mound from manager Terry Francona and pitching coach Al Nipper, Clement walked Terrence Long to load the bases then hit Kelly Stinnett with a pitch. Cabrera's two-run single and Derek Jeter's RBI double made it 4-2.
That gave Jeter 1,999 hits, one shy of becoming the eighth Yankees with 2,000. He went hitless in his other four at-bats.
Clement struggled through the next two innings without a run but gave up another four runs in the fifth when the first four batters singled. Alex Rodriguez and Cano started the rally before Williams and Long each singled in a run.
Clement left after striking out Stinnett, but Cabrera greeted Julian Tavarez with another two-run single, making it 8-5.
Francona said it wasn't frustrating to lose at home when the Yankees are missing key players Damon, Posada and Hideki Matsui.
"Whoever they put out there, they probably expect to win," Francona said. "I know we feel the same way."
Ramirez kept providing plenty of power with two blasts onto the street beyond the left-field seats. That gave him 11 homers for the season, with at least one in each of the three games in the Yankees series. He finished it 8-for-12 with four homers and 10 RBI.
Ramirez's second homer cut it to 8-6 in the seventh and the Red Sox loaded the bases with two outs in the eighth on two singles and a walk off Farnsworth. Then the righty with the blazing good fastball caught Ortiz looking on an 86-mph slider.
"That was the whole game right there," Jeter said. "You don't want to see guys on base when he comes to bat."
The Red Sox had taken a 2-0 lead in the first against Johnson when Ramirez homered with a man on.
Trailing 4-2, Boston tied it in the second on a single by Alex Gonzalez and Youkilis' fifth homer of the year.
The Red Sox went ahead 5-4 in the third when Ramirez doubled, then ran through third-base coach DeMarlo Hale's stop sign and scored standing up on Varitek's single.
- Jeter has 1,999 hits in 1,570 games. The fastest Yankees to 2,000 hits are Joe DiMaggio in 1,537 games and Lou Gehrig in 1,576.
- Torre got his 1,902nd career win, breaking a tie with Gene Mauch for 11th place on the career list.
- 3B Mike Lowell's error in the sixth was the first by a Red Sox starting position player in 19 games.
- Ramirez had his 45th multihomer game, 15th in major league history.