As overmatched as the Red Sox seemed at the plate, as shoddy as they looked in the field, as sluggish as they appeared, they were not all that upset. There was good news for them. Daisuke Matsuzaka loaded the bases with no outs.

That jam merely gave him a chance to show he was in midseason form. After allowing three Yankees to reach base in the fifth, he didn't allow any of the three who followed to hit a fair ball longer than 10 feet - a specialty of Matsuzaka, who is trying to redeem a lost season.

"There's kind of a comfort level there," manager Terry Francona said after a 3-0 loss at Yankee Stadium that had a couple of silver linings for a team that appears bound for the playoffs.

First of all, Jon Lester reported no complications from the bruise he suffered from a wicked line drive to his right knee Friday night. "It's still attached,'' Lester said, "so we're going in the right direction."

Then Matsuzaka (3-6, 6.08 ERA), who missed most of the season with a bad shoulder, pitched very well - especially in the fifth, when he got Alex Rodriguez to force Derek Jeter on a first-pitch dribbler fielded by catcher Victor Martinez, who dived back toward the plate, and retired Hideki Matsui and Nick Swisher on foul-outs. Matsui swung weakly at the first pitch, popping it to Martinez, and Mike Lowell made a nice catch near the stands to retire Swisher.

advertisement | advertise on newsday

"Mentally, it is like there is no one on," Matsuzaka said through an interpreter.

Matsuzaka also escaped a jam in the third. With runners on first and third and one out, he caught Rodriguez looking at a third strike on 3-and-2, and when A-Rod took a step toward first, he made contact with Martinez as he threw to second and was called for obstruction.

"We did take the loss, but I think that my pitching was not completely bad," he said.

Said Francona: "We are real encouraged. It's not going to change the loss for us, but any day your starter pitches well - especially him - it makes the glass look a little more full."