Pushed to the limit

NEW YORK - As the pitch roared off the bat, Junichi Tazawa turned to look. He stood there, staring out toward left field, where the ball was headed toward the bullpen just over the fence. He watched the ball settle, as the Yankees spilled out of their bullpen and as Alex Rodriguez followed Derek Jeter around the bases.
Photo gallery
Photos from the marathon Sox-Yankees game

* A marathon Sox-Yankees game


* Yankees 2, Red Sox 0 (15 innings) Pushed to the limit
* Dan Shaughnessy Coming out on the short end of a long night
* On Baseball Leading with conviction
* After getting clocked, Smoltz’s time has ended
* Red Sox notebook A day to remember for Tazawa
* Epstein in crisis control
* Gallery 10 things that have gone wrong for Red Sox
* City regulators say Red Sox must end open bar

The Yankees pooled at home plate, as the hour approached 1 a.m., and celebrated a win 5 hours 33 minutes in the making.

The night had deepened and the zeros had mounted and no one could do anything offensively. But with Tazawa on a major league mound for the first time, and Rodriguez at the plate, the void was simply too big. And then it happened, finally. Rodriguez smashed that pitch deep and far, way beyond left fielder Josh Reddick.

Jeter crossed the plate, then Rodriguez, the first time anyone had made it home in a game that ended in the 15th inning, a game ticketed for epic status on the YES Network and bound for the recycling bin at NESN. Those two runs sent the Yankees past the Sox, 2-0, bringing Boston’s American League East deficit to 4 1/2 games.

It was the fourth straight loss for the Sox, all to teams in their division, two coming in dispiriting fashion on home runs by power-hitting third basemen. Unlike the frustration Thursday night after the Sox were clobbered, the mood was slightly different in the postgame clubhouse. Chins were lifted, the attitude a touch defiant as the Sox season veers dangerously off course.

“We could have just as well [have won],’’ said Jason Varitek, who went 0 for 6 and caught all 267 pitches. “We lost two extra-inning games. Our season’s not over. We’ve got two months. Obviously we haven’t played our best baseball recently.

“A good thing is what I saw pitching-wise today. That’s what’s going to help us get over the hump.’’

Not that today will be easier. CC Sabathia takes on the slumping Clay Buchholz with a confident Yankees club behind him. The Sox will have to refill their bullpen coffers before today’s game and somehow end the losing.

“It’s a challenging time for this team, there’s no doubt about it,’’ GM Theo Epstein said before the game. “We’re not playing the type of baseball we want to play. We’re not getting consistent quality starts. We’re not hitting with runners in scoring position. It makes for a challenging time. Since the All-Star break we haven’t won as many games as we’d like.

“A lot of things are going wrong with health and performance and it’s times like these that you find out what you’re all about as a club, as an


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