NEW YORK — Sandy Leon could not remember the last time he put so much force into a swing and drove it over 400 feet.
“I don’t remember, maybe never,” Leon said.
The next time the topic comes up in conversation, Leon will have a better memory of the occasion.
Leon highlighted a career-high four RBI showing with a massive three-run home run and the Boston Red Sox ran their season-high winning streak to six games with a 5-2 victory over the New York Yankees on Saturday.
The most memorable swing of the backup catcher’s career took place with runners at second and third. He put a charge into CC Sabathia’s 2-0 pitch, launched a high-arching drive well over the left field fence and into the left field bleachers, giving the Red Sox a 5-1 lead.
“The dugout erupted,” Boston manager John Farrell said. “As soon as he squared it up, I don’t think there was any doubt where it might land.
The blast was estimated at 412-feet and it prompted Boston television play-by-play announcer Dave O’Brien to say “Sandy Leon is absolutely amazing.”
“It was a great swing off the bat,” said center fielder Jackie Bradley Jr. who watched the ball sail out from third base. “It sounded good. It looked good and I’m glad Sandy hit it.”
Leon began his 95th career game with two home runs and 17 RBIs in 264 at-bats since making his major league debut with Washington in 2012. He began his most productive showing at the plate with a tiebreaking RBI single in the fourth and finished the day with a .458 average (27-for-59) this season to go along with an OPS of 1,212.
“It’s such a compact swing,” Farrell said. “He’s playing with a lot of confidence. He’s far surpassed the offensive production to date that he’s given us.”
Besides getting his fourth three-hit game of the season and sixth of his career, Leon helped guide Eduardo Rodriguez (2-3) through seven solid innings in the left-hander’s return from two weeks with Triple-A Pawtucket.
Sent down to fix some mechanical flaws with his hands, Rodriguez resembled the pitcher who was 10-6 as a rookie and not the left-hander who had an 8.59 ERA this season entering Saturday.
“Today he looked really comfortable,” Leon said.
Rodriguez allowed one run and four hits in seven innings. He threw 97 pitches and improved to 4-1 lifetime against the Yankees in an outing Farrell described as a “potential shot in the arm” for the rotation.
He gave up a solo home run to Brett Gardner with two outs in the third. After Leon’s first run-scoring hit, Rodriguez labored slightly in the next two innings but ended the fourth with a double play to Mark Teixeira and a pop-up to Jacoby Ellsbury for the final out of the fifth.
Matt Barnes allowed a leadoff home run to Chase Headley in the eighth and Koji Uehara recorded his sixth save.
Xander Bogaerts drove in the other run for the Red Sox, who won for the eighth time in nine games.
While the Red Sox kept rolling, the Yankees fell to 0-2 on a 10-game homestand and were held to two runs or less for the 35th time. New York (44-46) is two games under .500 after the All-Star break for the first time since being 57-59 on Aug. 31, 1995 heading into Sunday’s meeting against Red Sox left-hander David Price.
“It’s not what you want,” New York manager Joe Girardi said. “It’s definitely not what you want. It’s got to turn around tomorrow. This is probably as important (a) game that we’ve had in July in a long time tomorrow.”
Sabathia (5-7) allowed five runs (four earned) and nine hits in 5 1/3 innings for his third straight loss.
“He didn’t have much luck today when I look at the way he threw the ball,” Girardi said. “He pitched a lot better than what it’s going to look like.”
NOTES: New York DH Alex Rodriguez is expected to get a third straight start Sunday when the Yankees face LHP David Price. … Boston manager John Farrell said LHP Drew Pomeranz will be added to the active roster Sunday. After the game, the Red Sox optioned RHP William Cuevas to Triple-A Pawtucket. . … Farrell also said RHP Clay Buchholz will be used as a multi-inning reliever. Buchholz is 3-9 with a 5.91 ERA in 19 starts but has a 2.89 ERA in his six relief appearances. Since he has not pitched in two weeks, Buchholz might have a simulated game during one of the team’s off days next week. … New York LF Brett Gardner had not homered in his previous 180 at-bats before Saturday.