NEW YORK -- Mariano Rivera was on the ropes, and the Boston Red Sox were poised to earn a memorable comeback victory.
That’s when the New York Yankees closer found his classic form again.
Rivera pitched himself into and out of trouble Saturday, escaping a bases-loaded, none-out jam in the ninth inning and preserving a 2-1 win.
“You can’t have doubts,” Rivera said. “You have to make pitches. If you have doubts, a lot of things can happen.”
After Mike Mussina pitched six shutout innings, Rivera took over in the ninth with a 2-0 lead. The Red Sox quickly scored a run and were poised to get more, but Rivera struck out Coco Crisp, got Jason Varitek on a popup and struck out Julio Lugo for his 23rd save.
“We gave ourselves a great chance with really good at-bats in the ninth and then Mariano went to work and really carved us up for three batters,” Boston Manager Terry Francona said.
“He gave himself no wiggle room and he didn’t need it.. . . . When you get bases loaded and nobody out, most of the time we’re still playing.”
The Red Sox were on the brink of capturing the first three games of the four-game series and fourth in a row in the season series against the Yankees when Rivera escaped.
Red Sox slugger Manny Ramirez was hit three times, tying the major league record, and the teams combined for seven hit batsmen total, matching a modern big league mark, according to the Elias Sports Bureau.