BOSTON -- Before Monday's Fenway opener, the Red Sox received their 2004 World Series championship rings. Then Boston went out and played like champions, handing the Yankees an 8-1 loss in the first of three games between the two rivals.

The Red Sox and Yankees have now split the first four meetings of the season, as each team is 3-4 through the first seven games of 2005.

Monday's win, which was preceded by the hoisting of Boston's first World Series championship banner in 86 years, belonged to Tim Wakefield, who has been with the Red Sox longer than any player on the roster.

Wakefield dazzled the Yankees with his knuckleball, a pitch that the Bronx Bombers seem to have a world of trouble dealing with. In his last five regular-season starts against New York, Wakefield is 2-0 with a miniscule 1.62 ERA.

"There's not a whole lot you can do with Wakefield," said manager Joe Torre. "There's no pattern, like with other pitchers. He's got a great deal of confidence against us, that he can do anything he wants."

"We've got to figure out a way to figure him out," said Alex Rodriguez, who scored New York's only run in the fourth inning on a throwing error by Edgar Renteria. "The last five or six times, he's done very well against us. It's frustrating."

Doug Mirabelli gave the Sox a 2-0 lead in the second, ripping the first pitch he saw from Mike Mussina over the Green Monster for a two-run homer. Boston added two more in the third on Kevin Millar's two-run single.

Rodriguez helped Boston break the game open in the bottom of the inning, committing an error on a routine grounder hit by Johnny Damon.

"I was a little overaggressive," Rodriguez said. "I knew Johnny got out of the box pretty good, but I should have played it back a little more."

Said Torre: "It looked like he thought he had to hurry more than he had to with Johnny running."

The flub extended the inning for the Red Sox, who capitalized by scoring three runs, two on Trot Nixon's double, a ball which glanced off the glove of Gary Sheffield, who appeared to lose it in the sun.

"When you make your pitch and get the result you want and it doesn't work, you have to get back on the mound and make some good pitches," Mussina said of the error. "I just didn't do it. I didn't have the ability to make the pitch when I needed it."

Following his error, Rodriguez heard it from the Fenway faithful, as the 33,702 in attendance chanted "A-Rod! A-Rod!" in unison. Rodriguez said it reminded him of the 1980s, when opposing fans would taunt the Mets' Darryl Strawberry with chants of "Dar-ryl!"

"I think I'm becoming a cult hero in Boston," Rodriguez said. "I really don't want that at all."

Mussina pitched just five innings, allowing seven runs -- four earned -- on seven hits and three walks, striking out five.

"I felt like I didn't have my best stuff," Mussina said. "I didn't have good command, and it wasn't the best day to pitch. Wakefield threw the ball well, had good movement and it's tough to hit when his knuckler is working."

Wakefield went seven innings, giving up just the one unearned run on five hits and two walks, striking out five. Matt Mantei and Keith Foulke took care of the final two frames, sending the Boston fans home with a smile on their faces.

"Wakefield is Wakefield," Torre said. "He throws strikes and that ball jumps all over the place. We just couldn't get a handle on it."