David Ortiz hit his league-leading 49th homer, and Kevin Youkilis had a three-run double in the seventh inning to lead the Red Sox over the Yankees 6-3 in the opener of Sunday's day-night doubleheader.
The teams split a day-night doubleheader Saturday, and the Yankees were in position to clinch their ninth straight division title with a sweep Sunday combined with a Blue Jays loss to the Devil Rays. But even before the Red Sox got the final out, Toronto won 5-3.
"Sooner or later, we are going to clinch this thing," Johnny Damon said.
New York, which leads the AL East by 9½ games over the second-place Red Sox, still has a magic number of four and hopes to wrap up the division during a seven-game trip to Toronto and Tampa Bay that starts Monday.
"Celebrating here, celebrating next week," Youkilis said before pausing. "It's definitely better that they're not celebrating in front of us."
Boston remained eight games behind Minnesota, the AL wild-card leader.
"There's no glory here," Youkilis said. "It doesn't make us happy, at all. Our goal this year was to win the division and we didn't accomplish it, barring a miracle."
Ron Villone (3-3) relieved to start the seventh with the score 2-all and walked Doug Mirabelli with one out. Villone caught pinch-runner Coco Crisp off first on a pickoff with two outs, but Crisp curled around first baseman Craig Wilson and got back to the base.
"Coco's footwork to keep it going was interesting," Red Sox manager Terry Francona said.
Wilson, who argued unsuccessfully, claimed Crisp was 6 feet out of the basepath but said first base umpire Mike Esterbrook told him Crisp didn't stray beyond the 3-foot limit.
Pinch-hitter Mark Loretta then worked out a 10-pitch walk and pinch-hitter Dustin Pedroia, hitting just .137, doubled down the left-field line for a 3-2 lead. After an intentional walk to Ortiz loaded the bases, Youkilis cleared them with a double that short-hopped the wall in right-center.
Bryan Corey (2-1) won in relief of Kyle Snyder, who used a big curveball to strike out seven in five innings. He allowed his only runs in the third, when Damon and Melky Cabrera hit consecutive doubles and Robinson Cano followed with an RBI single.
Villone has allowed 27 runs in 26 innings since the end of July, his ERA rising from 2.08 to 4.50.
"I'm not far away," he said. "Physically I feel good. I'm missing by a little bit here and there."
New York's Jaret Wright gave up David Murphy's first major league home run on his fourth pitch of the game and Ortiz's homer leading off the sixth. Fans, who had been taunting Ortiz with chants of "Derek Jeter!" quickly shifted to "Season's Over!"
While Ortiz wasn't speaking to reporters, Murphy expressed pride.
"All the firsts are just unbelievable," he said. "It's a good place to hit your first one."
- Cabrera made a nice running grab of Eric Hinske's fly ball down the left-field line starting the seventh. Cabrera extended his glove, caught the ball in the webbing, and his momentum carried him into the first row of the stands -- reminiscent of Jeter's startling, hurtling catch against the Red Sox on July 1, 2004, but not as difficult or dramatic. "The padding helped me a lot, so it was a nice fall," Cabrera said through a translator.
- Red Sox LF Wily Mo Pena was not in the lineup, a day after straining his right quadriceps while trying to get Jason Giambi's go-ahead hit in the second game.
- Youkilis came out of the game with a jammed right shoulder after Bernie Williams' knee hit him at first base in the eighth. Youkilis said the injury wasn't major.