BOSTON -- Kevin Maas stood in the box, trying to avert history. Boston reliever Jeff Reardon stood on the mound, trying to create it. It was a battle of wills, the type of battle that Reardon has not lost often in his 13-year major-league career.
And he would not lose last night at Fenway, either. Boston starter and Finksburg native John Dopson had set the stage for his closer, pitching eight shutout innings at the New York Yankees. Reardon then nailed down the final three outs for his 342nd career save, moving him past Rollie Fingers into first place on the all-time list as the Red Sox blanked the Yankees, 1-0.
The crowd of 33,577 rose to its feet to breathe in the final confrontation. Maas was all that separated Reardon from the record books. With the tying run on first, the bearded reliever threw a ball, then a strike. Then there was a foul ball. One and two.
Reardon went with the curve, the pitch he's leaned on late in his career as his once-blazing fastball has left him. Maas swung and missed. The crowd roared in approval as Reardon was carried off the field on his teammates' arms.
"I really believe it's a big thing," Reardon said. "Rollie Fingers was probably one of the best pitchers ever and, I believe, the greatest relief pitcher. It's nice to be up there with him."
Maas, for his part, felt no real dejection.
"It wasn't just a regular game out there," Maas said. "There was a little more adrenalin pumping in me. It's tougher to be focused in a situation like that. You've got to bear down."
For eight innings, the Yankees had attempted with little success to bear down against Dopson. But the righthanded sinkerballer, who spent nearly all of the last two seasons on the disabled list, had his way with the Yankees, holding them to five hits and keeping the crisp pace of this 2-hour, 17-minute game.
Through four games on this 14-game trip, the Yankees have fallen upon some rugged times offensively, scoring but nine runs. And the Yankees' offensive woes have come at a time when their starting pitching could not be much better.
Last night, the Yankees got a three-hit complete game from Scott Sanderson, who fell to 4-5. It was the Yankees' second complete-game loss on the trip and their third in their last six games. They have received four straight quality starts on this trip.
"Scott deserved a better fate," New York manager Buck Showalter said. "Any time you hold any club to one run, especially Boston in this ballpark, you can't pitch much better. But I'll try to look at the positive side. We've gotten four well-pitched ballgames. I hope that trend continues."
The lone Red Sox run came on a Phil Plantier homer leading off the fifth inning. To that point, Sanderson had not allowed a hit. But he fell behind Plantier 2-0, and the Red Sox rightfielder got a fastball that he lofted to left.