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Holliday grinds out key at-bat vs. tough Sale

On 10th pitch, slugger hits sac fly to plate 1st run
MLB.com @BryanHoch

BOSTON -- Matt Holliday had Chris Sale's repertoire rattling through his mind as they engaged in a 10-pitch battle during the fourth inning of Thursday's 3-0 Yankees victory over the Red Sox, resulting in a sacrifice fly to left field that sent Aaron Hicks home with the first run of the evening.

"It's tough. You've got to honor his 96-, 97-mph fastball, but he's also got the really good breaking ball and a changeup that he'll throw," Holliday said. "At that point, you're just trying to battle and put it in play, knowing that you've got a runner at third with less than two outs."

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BOSTON -- Matt Holliday had Chris Sale's repertoire rattling through his mind as they engaged in a 10-pitch battle during the fourth inning of Thursday's 3-0 Yankees victory over the Red Sox, resulting in a sacrifice fly to left field that sent Aaron Hicks home with the first run of the evening.

"It's tough. You've got to honor his 96-, 97-mph fastball, but he's also got the really good breaking ball and a changeup that he'll throw," Holliday said. "At that point, you're just trying to battle and put it in play, knowing that you've got a runner at third with less than two outs."

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Sale alternated his slider and fastball in the first six pitches of the one-out showdown with Holliday, with a passed ball skipping away from catcher Sandy Leon that allowed Hicks to advance to third base.

"That was definitely my mistake," Sale said. "We had a sequence that we were going with, and I just flat out forgot. [Holliday's] a tough out. There's no doubt about it. He's been around a long time. He's as good as they get. He's a professional at-bat every time."

Holliday stayed alive by tipping a 96.8-mph heater foul, so Sale responded by firing three more fastballs -- one for a ball, two whacked foul -- before Holliday got the bat head out on a 79-mph slider, lining it to left fielder Andrew Benintendi.

"That was a tough, tough at-bat," Yankees manager Joe Girardi said. "Good job by Hicksy getting back real quick, because he was going on contact there and he got back. Just a great at-bat by Matt. Matt had a bunch of great at-bats tonight when you look at them."

"I don't think I thought in my mind, 'That'll win the game,' but it did give us a little bit of breathing room," Holliday said.

Holliday singled over Benintendi's head to lead off the seventh inning, but was thrown out at second base, as the rookie played the ball expertly off the wall. Holliday said that he was trying to get into scoring position in what was a one-run game at the time.

Video: NYY@BOS: Benintendi uses strong throw to nab Holliday

That changed in the ninth as Holliday delivered the knockout blow on Sale's 109th and final pitch, singling home Hicks with a well-struck liner to left. The two-RBI performance was most welcome for Holliday, who was 2-for-27 (.074) over his last 10 games coming into the Fenway finale.

Video: NYY@BOS: Holliday lines an RBI single to left field

"It felt good," Holliday said. "Obviously any time you help the team win and do something positive and have good at-bats against one of the best pitchers in the league, I feel pretty good about that. You just try to take that momentum into tomorrow and build off it."

Bryan Hoch has covered the Yankees for MLB.com since 2007. Follow him on Twitter @bryanhoch and on Facebook.

New York Yankees, Matt Holliday