Saturday, May 31, 2008

Sox Win in 13th Over Baltimore

If Manny Ramirez was looking for home run No. 500 to celebrate his 36th birthday, he got another type of gift entirely. In the 13th inning of Friday night's game with the Orioles, Ramirez hit a routine grounder to third base, only to have Melvin Mora airmail the throw to first. The two-base error set in motion Boston's winning rally.
Mike Lowell immediately followed by belting a one-out RBI single to left field that scored Ramirez to snap the tie and propel the Red Sox to a much-needed 5-2 win over the Orioles. Lowell's hit came against former Boston righty Chad Bradford.
"Just looking to get my hands out extended," said Lowell. "Bradford is a real uncomfortable at-bat. He doesn't throw hard velocity-wise, but you don't pick up the ball until real late. It gets on you quick. I can't say I had a special formula or anything. Just looking to put a good swing, make him elevate a little. It worked out well. I think we were able to capitalize on some of their mistakes late in the game."
Another Baltimore throwing error later in the inning -- this time by shortstop Freddie Bynum -- allowed two more insurance runs to score.
As road-weary as they were -- losers in five of six games on the West Coast -- the Red Sox were more than happy to steal a win any way they could get it.
"Oh yeah, it was awesome," said Ramirez.
The game had been tied since the bottom of the fourth.
Mike Timlin earned the victory and Jonathan Papelbon, the seventh pitcher used by manager Terry Francona, came on for the save in the bottom of the 13th.
"It's tough," said Lowell. "Holding a team for two runs for 13 innings is a pretty good job."
Aside from pulling out the late-night victory, the Red Sox also set a club record with six stolen bases. Jacoby Ellsbury had three of them, falling one shy of Jerry Remy's team record. Kevin Youkilis, Coco Crisp and Lowell added the other three thefts.
Lowell was in the middle of everything, making plays on defense, stealing a base and delivering that game-winning hit.
"We needed a hit at some point," said Francona. "We had to score. We were getting thin."
Hideki Okajima (two innings), Manny Delcarmen (one inning), Javy Lopez (one out), Craig Hansen (five outs), Timlin (one inning) and Papelbon (one inning) all fired zeroes.
Timlin, who was the recipient of a walk-off loss on Tuesday night in Seattle, got into the most danger. Nick Markakis led off the 12th with a double. Timlin then walked Aubrey Huff intentionally and got Kevin Millar to hit what might have been an inning-ending double play. But shortstop Julio Lugo, who has 12 errors on the season, bobbled the ball. It didn't turn disastrous, though. Lugo stuck with it and fired to first, just in time to get Millar. After another intentional walk loaded the bases, Timlin got Ramon Hernandez on a deep flyout to left that birthday boy Ramirez tracked down just in front of the track.
"We put up a lot of zeroes," Francona said. "You go to your bullpen in the sixth and you end up playing 13, that's a lot of zeroes. We had to bob and weave a little bit and dodge a few, but we did. That's a lot of zeroes put up by your bullpen. They all did a good job."
Beckett did a good job of his own. The ace struck out 10 and allowed just two runs over six innings, keeping pace with Orioles righty Daniel Cabrera.
"That was last night," quipped Beckett during an interview session that took place after midnight. "I felt fine. Battled through some innings."
The Red Sox got off to a quick start offensively. Ellsbury led off the game with a double to left and moved to third on a groundout by Dustin Pedroia. David Ortiz took advantage of the opportunity, lining an RBI single to right. Ramirez followed by belting a double into the corner in left to move Ortiz to third. Lowell made it 2-0 with a sacrifice fly to left.
Crisp nearly generated a rally by himself in the second. He walked and sped to second when ball four was wild. Crisp then stole third. But it all went for naught when Alex Cora couldn't get a squeeze bunt down. Crisp got hung up and was out in what was ruled an attempted steal of home.
The Orioles struck for a run against Beckett in the bottom of the second. Millar and Luke Scott hit back-to-back singles. When Scott stole second, Jason Varitek's throw went into center field, allowing Millar to score from third. Aubrey Huff led off the fourth with a solo homer to right, tying the game at 2.
The one thing the Orioles did effectively against Beckett was work his pitch count. They drew three walks in the sixth, loading the bases with two outs. However, Beckett blew a 96-mph fastball by Adam Jones to end the threat. That was pitch No. 118 for Beckett, forcing him out of the game after six innings.
"Other than the home run and the other run, he kept them at bay," Francona said. "Good thing, because after we scored those two, it took us about 4 1/2 hours to get another one."
But the Red Sox weren't in a rush. They just needed to win.
"Big win," said Lugo. "We needed that. Definitely, we needed that."

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