NEW YORK — A couple of things have remained constant for the New York Yankees all season: They keep getting hurt and they keep winning games.
Aaron Judge and Gio Urshela homered early as a makeshift Yankees lineup pounded David Price in a 7-4 victory Sunday night that sent the defending World Series champion Boston Red Sox to their eighth consecutive defeat.
But no pleasure comes without pain for the AL East leaders these days. All-Star second baseman Gleyber Torres was lifted in the late innings because of a core issue and sent to the hospital for tests. Urshela was replaced at third base in the ninth, a few innings after fouling a ball hard off each leg in a span of three pitches.
"It’s been a crazy year in that way, with the amount of things that have happened to guys physically," manager Aaron Boone said. "But it’s also been something that’s been a real rallying cry for us."
X-rays on Urshela were negative but he had wraps on both legs after the game. He said he was feeling better and planned to travel with the team to Baltimore.
With only three projected regulars in the batting order, the banged-up Yankees won their fifth straight and completed the first four-game sweep of their longtime rivals since August 2009. New York (72-39) maintained its eight-game division lead over Tampa Bay and dropped the third-place Red Sox a whopping 14 1/2 behind — not to mention 6 1/2 games out of a playoff spot.
"That’s what we’re supposed to do. We’re a first-place team," Judge said. "We just went out there and took care of business. It doesn’t matter who we play."
Boston has lost eight in a row for the first time since an eight-game skid in July 2015.
"Overall, a horrible week," manager Alex Cora said. "There’s no doubt in my mind these guys can turn it around."
Handed a 7-0 lead after three innings, J.A. Happ (9-6) improved to 10-4 against the Red Sox, who finished 1-8 in the Bronx this year and are 4-11 in the season series. He beat Price (7-5) in a matchup of starting pitchers who just came off paternity leave.
The rollicking sellout crowd of 47,267 gave a struggling Price the Pedro Martinez treatment, chanting "Who’s your daddy?" during his latest flop at Yankee Stadium.
"I wasn’t going to miss this start. That wasn’t going to happen," Price said.
In the Yankees clubhouse after the game, Happ addressed his teammates with a message to keep moving forward regardless of all the injuries.
"This whole team is tough. Everyone’s tough. We know what we’ve been through, so I think that motivates a lot of us," Judge said. "We know how hard it is. We know how beat up everybody is. We’ve got to stay in there and keep fighting."
The start was delayed 69 minutes due to a threat of rain, though it remained almost completely dry throughout.
Happ sailed through four innings before Christian Vazquez and rookie Michael Chavis hit back-to-back homers in the fifth. With two outs in the sixth, Andrew Benintendi chased Happ with a two-run single that shaved it to 7-4.
Luis Cessa struck out Chavis with two on and worked 2 1/3 hitless innings. Chad Green got three outs for his third major league save and second this season.
Judge sent a no-doubt solo drive into the elevated bleachers in right-centre in the first. It was his first home run in 58 at-bats since July 19.
Judge walked in the third and Urshela, batting cleanup, launched a two-run homer off the back wall of Boston’s bullpen in left-centre. That was the first of six straight two-out hits — four for extra bases — and then a walk that ended Price’s night.
Brett Gardner and Cameron Maybin hit consecutive doubles. Mike Ford, a 27-year-old undrafted rookie out of Princeton wearing No. 74, had an RBI single. Third-string catcher Kyle Higashioka laced his second double off Price, and No. 9 batter Mike Tauchman added a two-run single in a half-inning that took 28 minutes.
"It just snowballed," Cora said.
Price stood behind the mound, head lowered with his back to home plate, as he waited to be pulled after throwing 75 pitches in only 2 2/3 innings. The left-hander gave up a season-high seven runs and nine hits before walking slowly to the dugout. He is 0-3 with a 10.59 ERA in just 17 innings over his last four outings.
Price also fell to 1-7 with a 9.61 ERA in eight starts at Yankee Stadium since signing a $217 million, seven-year contract to join the Red Sox before the 2016 season. The lone win came on June 2 this year.
"I’ve faced them a lot. Just got to find something different," Price said.
Yankees: CF Aaron Hicks went on the 10-day injured list with a flexor strain in his right elbow. Hicks won’t throw for a week to 10 days, but the team is optimistic he’ll return this season. Gardner becomes the primary centre fielder. … SS Didi Gregorius returned to the lineup for the first time since rolling over his left wrist fielding a ball Wednesday. … All-Star catcher Gary Sanchez likely will begin a minor league rehab assignment this week and is expected to rejoin the Yankees next weekend in Toronto. … Ford played first base, with DJ LeMahieu getting a rest after returning Friday from a sore groin. Edwin Encarnacion (broken right wrist) and Luke Voit (sports hernia) are sidelined. LeMahieu entered for Torres in the eighth.
Boston recalled RHP Ryan Weber from Triple-A Pawtucket and optioned RHP Colten Brewer, RHP Josh Smith and INF Marco Hernandez to its top farm club.
Red Sox: RHP Rick Porcello (9-8, 5.74 ERA) pitches Monday night against Kansas City LHP Mike Montgomery in the opener of a seven-game homestand. The 2016 AL Cy Young Award winner was 4-1 in five July starts despite a 7.94 ERA.
Yankees: RHP Masahiro Tanaka (7-6, 4.78) takes the ball Monday night at last-place Baltimore when New York begins a seven-game trip against two AL East also-rans. Tanaka hasn’t lasted more than four innings in either of his past two outings and is 1-4 with a 7.40 ERA on the road this year.