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Holliday returns with 3-run HR, Yankees beat Red Sox 5-1

NEW YORK — Matt Holliday made a smashing return to the Yankees’ lineup, hitting a three-run homer that led Masahiro Tanaka and New York over the AL East-leading Boston Red Sox 5-1 Saturday.

The Yankees, already holding the top spot in the wild-card race, pulled within 4½ games of Boston. The rivals close their season series Sunday night.

Holliday hadn’t played in the majors since going on the disabled list almost a month ago with a back injury. He was activated Friday but sat out a 4-1 loss.

Holliday was greeted with “Welcome Back” by the public address announcer when the lineups were introduced, drawing a rippling of applause. Later, he revved up the sellout crowd of 46,536 on a holiday weekend.

It was 1-all in the sixth inning when Holliday launched a drive to left off Drew Pomeranz (14-5) estimated at 443 feet. Holliday pointed toward the Yankees dugout on his way toward first base after his 17th home run — his previous homer was July 16, a tying shot in the ninth off Red Sox closer Craig Kimbrel at Fenway Park.