Red Sox Bats Do Just Enough

Manny Hit Solo HR in 4th Inning

Boston has not played well against the Orioles this year. The feisty O's had played to an 8-7 record against Boston this year, and at this important juncture in the AL Wild Card race, they hoped to play spoiler again. But it was not to be. Manny Ramirez, Trot Nixon, and David Ortiz all homered for Boston, and the bullpen did just enough in defense of starter Jeff Suppan in a 7-5 win, a win that will ensure Boston at least a 2 ½ game lead in the AL Wild Card race when they wake up on Tuesday.

Jeff Suppan (3-3) pitched pretty well, and the offense got things started quickly for him. In the bottom of the 1st, Johnny Damon led off with a double to left field off of Orioles starter Jason Johnson (10-9), who has not won in his last eight starts. After a walk to new number two hitter Nomar Garciaparra, Todd Walker hit a triple off the Green Monster in left. The ball hit the wall, and then hit left fielder Larry Bigbie's foot, caroming into left center field, and allowing both runners to score. Manny Ramirez then lined a ball off of shortstop Deivi Cruz's glove to drive Walker home and give the Sox a 3-0 lead.

The Orioles struck in the third, as Jay Gibbons, who had singled, scored on a double by B.J. Surhoff, to make the score 3-1. In the Red Sox 4th, some of the Red Sox' power would show when Ramirez led off with a long home run into right center field. Trot Nixon would follow two batters later with a solo shot of his own, and the lead blew up to 5-0. Suppan, during this whole time, would be in and out of trouble, pitching his way out of jams in the second and fourth innings, as well as giving up the run in the third. In the 5th, he would yield another run on a solo home run by Luis Matos with two outs. This came just after Brian Roberts was picked off of first base. That mistake was costly considering what Matos did, but the lead was 5-2.

In the Red Sox half of the 6th, they squandered a great opportunity which, had they lost, would have been a turning point. Todd Walker led off with a single, and Manny Ramirez hit a chopper up the middle. Brian Roberts fielded, but his toss to second was low and behind Deivi Cruz. Ortiz singled to drive home Walker and push Ramirez to third, and Jason Johnson's last pitch hit Kevin Millar in the thigh. However, Buddy Groom would come in and get the Orioles out of the bases loaded, no one out jam. A comebacker by Nixon would erase Ramirez at the plate, and Bill Mueller, the league's leading hitter, would ground into a 5-4-3 double play.

The bullpen would take over for Boston starting in the 7th, and that was where their troubles started. Jack Cust led off with a home run to right, and the Orioles would get runners on second and third with two outs before Alan Embree retired Jay Gibbons to end the inning. In the eighth, the Orioles would scratch out four straight singles with one out, and a sacrifice fly by Brian Roberts would draw the Orioles to within 6-5 off of Mike Timlin. However, Timlin would come back to retire the Orioles, and Ortiz's long bomb to dead center field would give the Red Sox an insurance run. Byung-Hyun Kim would come on to close out the game in the 9th for his 16th save.

The Sox will try to lower their magic number on Tuesday, sending Tim Wakefield (11-7, 4.14) to the mound against Eric DuBose (3-5, 3.86).

Be sure to visit our friends at to get your "The Curse...Reversed" T-shirts. No self-respecting Red Sox fan should go without one.

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