Baltimore (70-87) at Boston (93-65)

Partly Cloudy Currently: Boston, MA
Temp: 64° F
  • Game info: 7:05 pm EDT Thu Sep 25, 2003
  • TV: CSN, NESN
Preview | Box Score | Recap

The Boston Red Sox can clinch their first playoff berth in four years with a win over the Baltimore Orioles in the finale of their four-game series at Fenway Park.

Boston, which lost to the New York Yankees in five games in the 1999 ALCS, clinched at least a tie for the wild card on Wednesday when Seattle lost 4-0 at Anaheim.

For the Red Sox to miss the playoffs, they would have to lose their final four games, and the Mariners would have to sweep a three-game series against Oakland, then beat Boston in a one-game playoff.

The Red Sox wasted their chance to clinch a playoff berth by losing to the Orioles 7-3 on Wednesday.

Tony Batista hit a grand slam in a seven-run first inning, and Pat Hentgen pitched six strong innings to lead Baltimore.

Boston’s David Ortiz continued his slugging with two homers, giving him three in two games and 31 for the season. His solo homer in the 10th inning Tuesday night gave Boston a 6-5 win.

With two RBIs Wednesday, Ortiz joined Manny Ramirez and Nomar Garciaparra as Red Sox with at least 100 RBIs. The last time the Red Sox had three players with at least 100 was 1984—Tony Armas, Dwight Evans and Jim Rice.

The Red Sox hope Ortiz continues his clutch hitting on Thursday in support of right-hander Derek Lowe.

Lowe is 5-1 over his last eight starts to improve to 16-7. Lowe went 21-8 with a 2.58 ERA last season and finished third in the AL Cy Young Award voting. He hasn’t pitched nearly as well this season, posting a 4.56 ERA.

The Orioles will match Lowe with lefty Omar Daal. The southpaw is 2-0 with a 1.38 ERA in two career starts against Boston.

Daal hasn’t won a decision since beating Texas 8-1 on May 30. He’s 0-5 with a 9.25 ERA over his last seven appearances, including five starts.

STANDINGS: Orioles - 4th place, 27 GB, AL East. Red Sox - 2nd place, 5 GB, AL East.

ORIOLES PROBABLE STARTER: Daal (4-10, 5.77 ERA). Daal allowed two runs and six hits in four innings Friday but wasn’t around when Baltimore lost 5-2 to Toronto.

RED SOX PROBABLE STARTER: Lowe (16-7, 4.56 ERA). Lowe is looking to rebound from a 13-4 loss to Cleveland on Saturday. The sinkerballer gave up six runs— four earned—and nine hits in 6 1-3 innings. Lowe went 5-0 with a 3.14 ERA in his previous seven starts.

OFFENSIVE LEADERS: Orioles - Jay Gibbons, .281 avg., 99 RBIs and 79 runs; Batista, 26 HRs; Brian Roberts, 23 SBs. Red Sox - Bill Mueller, .324 avg.; Ramirez, 36 HRs and 102 RBIs; Garciaparra, 118 runs; Johnny Damon, 30 SBs.

SEASON SERIES: Tied, 9-9.

STREAKS AND NOTES: Orioles - OF Gibbons is batting .182 (4-for-22) with a home run lifetime against RHP Lowe. … 3B Batista has seven career grand slams. … INF Jack Cust is 6-for-12 over the last three games. Red Sox - SS Garciaparra is in a 1-for-18 slump which has dropped his batting average to .302. … 1B-DH Ortiz is the seventh player in Red Sox history with six or more multihomer games in a season. Jimmie Foxx set the club record of 10 in 1938. … 3B Mueller is 3-for-16 with a home run against LHP Daal.

ROAD/HOME RECORDS: Orioles - 30-47 on the road; Red Sox - 52-28 at home.

INJURIES: Orioles - INF David Segui (wrist), 60-day DL; OF Albert Belle (hip), 60-day DL; OF Marty Cordova (elbow), 60-day DL; LHP Erik Bedard (elbow), 60-day DL; RHP Scott Erickson (shoulder), 60-day DL; RHP Willis Roberts (elbow), 60-day DL. Red Sox - 1B-DH Jeremy Giambi (shoulder), 15-day DL; RHP Bob Howry (elbow), 60-day DL; RHP Robert Person (hip), 60-day DL.

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Starting Pitchers

O. Daal Bal vs. D. Lowe Tex
4-11 Record 17-7
6.34 ERA 4.47
53 K 110
30 BB 72
1.75 WHIP 1.42