Red Sox 7, Athletics 3
Ramirez and Kevin Millar homered and drove in three runs apiece as the Red Sox again pulled even with Oakland in the AL wild-card race, beating Mulder and the Athletics 7-3 Wednesday night.
The Red Sox won the way they prefer—with plenty of offense from the majors’ most prolific lineup. Ramirez entered the game in an 8-for-43 slump, but he clubbed a two-run homer in the seventh to chase Mulder (15-9), who lost at home for just the second time all season.
But Ramirez and his teammates tired out the A’s dominant left-hander in the third with a small-ball rally that included four singles and Ramirez’s gutsy two-out walk, which forced in Boston’s first run.
“If Manny doesn’t show that patience and that discipline, the whole series could have turned,” said Millar, who followed Ramirez with a two-run single. “That’s the mark of a great hitter. He does the little things and the big things, too.”
Bill Mueller had a run-scoring single among his three hits as the Red Sox won for just the second time in seven games. After losing the first two games of the series, Boston matched Oakland’s 69-51 record atop the wild-card standings.
“It’ll rank up there as one of our bigger wins this season, and doing it against a pitcher the quality of Mulder is even bigger,” Boston manager Grady Little said.
The expected pitchers’ duel between Mulder and Derek Lowe didn’t exactly materialize. Lowe (12-6) struggled through five innings, allowing five hits and two walks, but stayed in just long enough to get his first win in four starts.
The A’s loaded the bases in the fifth on two walks and a hit, but Lowe overcame a 3-0 count to strike out Erubiel Durazo—and then pumped his fist while looking into Oakland’s dugout in a rare display of positive emotion from the right-hander, who’s been criticized for negative body language at times.
“That’s the biggest out I’ve got in a long time,” Lowe said. “The emotion is directed to nobody, but to get that out after throwing three balls is something I’m proud of.”
Mulder (15-9) lost consecutive starts for just the second time this season, yielding nine hits, three walks and five earned runs in 6 1-3 shaky innings.
“Every mistake I made, they hit hard,” Mulder said. “I made more than one or two mistakes … I had an off night. All right, move on to my next start. It’s done with.”
Jose Guillen homered for the A’s, who lost for just the third time in their last 14 home games.
Four Boston relievers pitched one inning apiece.
Millar followed Ramirez’s seventh-inning blast with a solo homer off reliever Chad Harville. It was Millar’s 20th of the season, matching his career high set with Florida in 2001.
Millar was 0-for-6 in the first two games of the series.
“I’ve never seen any of these (pitchers),” Millar said. “It’s a whole new experience. After Hudson (pitched a two-hitter on Monday), I didn’t know what I was going to do. I thought I was going to retire.”
It was just the third bases-loaded walk of Mulder’s career. Millar followed it with a single to center, putting Boston up 3-2.
Durazo had a horrific night, going 0-for-4 with three strikeouts. Every one of his outs ended an inning, and he stranded seven runners while extending his 7-for-40 slump.
“When we got him, we had high expectations,” Oakland manager Ken Macha said. “It’s his first year in the league, and it’s the first time we’ve seen(Boston). I’m sure he’d like to be contributing a little more.”
Oakland activated RHP Jim Mecir from the 15-day disabled list and designated OF Adam Piatt for assignment. The move gives the A’s 12 pitchers. … The Red Sox hit back-to-back homers for the 10th time this season. … The series ends on Thursday with Ted Lilly pitching against Tim Wakefield. The teams meet again in Boston for three games next week. … Dave McCarty, acquired by the Red Sox off waivers from Oakland last week, went 0-for-5. … Scott Williamson pitched an inning of relief for Boston, but he broke a bloodvessel on his pitching hand while stopping a grounder.