Barreling towards to end of his career, Joe Girardi didn't mind using Mariano Rivera for a six-out save, instead of using the lately unreliable bullpen to close out a game that the New York Yankees desperately needed to win.

After retiring the Boston Red Sox on 20 pitches in the 8th inning, the Yanks were three outs away from a win, but that was before a solo homerun by Will Middlebrooks tied the game in the 9th, giving Rivera his 7th blown save of the season.

Then in the bottom half of the 9th, Ichiro reached base on a one-out single, then proceeded to steal second, and moved to third base on a flyout to right by Vernon Wells, then a wild pitch off the glove of Jarrod Saltalamacchia scored Ichiro from 3rd to give the Yankees a 4-3 win.

"Obviously, if we lose this one today, it would have been a big hit mentally," Ichiro said through his interpreter. "It would have been tough, to be honest. But we did win, and hopefully we can take this win here, get on a run, and really use it to our advantage."

Hiroki Kuroda was coming off a fourth straight shaky outing, and although to threw a million pitches, he still gave to Bombers a quality start, coming away with the win, thanks in large part because of a two-run double by Robinson Cano to break a 1-1 tie in the 5th inning.

"This is the time of the season now where whatever we've got left, we've just got to give everything now," Cano said. "If we want to make it to the playoffs, that's what we've got to do."

Boston jumped out to 1-0 lead in the second inning after David Ortiz and Mike Carp opened the inning with back-to-back doubles off Kuroda. From there, he calmed down, giving up just five hits on the day, while throwing a season-high 117 pitches in six innings of work.

"At this stage of the season, fatigue really doesn't matter," Kuroda said. "You have to treat it as if this is going to be your last outing."

The Yankees tied up the ballgame in the home half of the 4th when Mark Reynolds -- who decided to drop down a bunt in the 2nd inning with runners on 1st and 2nd and nobody out, but the decision backfired when he popped up the bunt for the out -- doubled over the head of Jackie Bradley Jr. in center field to score Alex Rodriguez all the way from first base. A-Rod finish 2-for-3 and also reached on a walk.

Then with one-out in the 5th, Chris Stewart, Ichiro and Wells all reached base on bloop hits to load the bases for Cano to line a double down the left field line, scoring two runs off Red Sox starter Jon Lester to take a 3-1 lead.

The Red Sox answered back to score a run of their own in the top of the six, when Ortiz doubled, moving to second on a groundout, then scoring on a groundout to second base by Jarrod Saltalamacchia, pulling Boston within a run.

After Kuroda exited the game after six innings, Shawn Kelley returned to pitch for the first time since last Sunday -- missing this past week because of triceps inflammation -- and with runners on 2nd and 3rd, Kelley got Dustin Pedroia to ground out the Eduardo Nunez at shortstop to end the inning.

Chris Stewart left the game in the 7th inning, he was replaced behind the plate by Austin Romine. It would be announced not long after that Stewart bruised his left foot, and the Yankees were sending him to the hospital for precautionary x-rays.