Red Sox 4, Athletics 2, 10 innings

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OAKLAND, Calif. (AP)—Thanks to some late-inning heroics from Manny Ramirez and Bill Mueller, the Boston Red Sox regained the lead in the AL wild card race.

Ramirez hit a game-tying homer in the ninth and Mueller drove in the go-ahead run in the 10th as the Red Sox beat the Oakland Athletics 4-2 Thursday.

“The bats weren’t working today, so that home run was exactly what we needed,” said Boston outfielder Johnny Damon, who was with the A’s the last time they lost a game after holding a lead entering the ninth—on Aug. 14, 2001 in Toronto.

“Manny put together a great at-bat, and that was a huge lift.”

Mueller homered in the sixth, then put Boston ahead with a sacrifice fly as the Red Sox salvaged a split of the four-game series with two straight victories.

The A’s failed to win after carrying a lead into the ninth for the first time in 59 games this season—and the first time in 185 games overall.

“All good things have to come to an end some time,” Damon said. “I’m just glad we were the recipients.”

The Red Sox didn’t get much time to enjoy two revitalizing victories. They headed north after the game for another West Coast showdown in a three-game series with the AL West-leading Seattle Mariners.

Ramirez tied it with his 28th homer of the season on a 3-2 pitch from A’s closer Keith Foulke, who blew his fifth save in 34 chances. It was Ramirez’s first career hit against Foulke in nine at-bats.

Ramirez fouled off four two-strike pitches before driving the ball 10 rows deep in the left-field stands.

“I couldn’t get my fastball out far enough away from him,” Foulke said. “Then I made a mistake, and he got it. I was wishing for anything but a home run.”

In the 10th, Gabe Kapler reached base on an infield single and scored on Mueller’s fly to center off Jim Mecir (2-2). Damon scored an insurance run after a throwing error by Eric Chavez.

“We did a good job of hitting in the late innings,” Boston manager Grady Little said. “Mueller, all day long, had good at-bats. I can’t say enough about the guy. He’s been terrific for us all season.”

Miguel Tejada drove in a pair of runs for the A’s, who briefly took the wild card lead with victories on Monday and Tuesday.

“The ninth changed the momentum with that homer,” A’s manager Ken Macha said. “Ramirez had a great at-bat.”

Byung-Hyun Kim (5-3) pitched two scoreless innings for the victory.

The A’s wasted plenty of chances to put away the victory. They had runners on second and third with no outs in the eighth, but reliever Alan Embree got three quick outs.

“I like it messy, but not that messy,” Embree said. “That was a little bit too stressful. I gave up hits to the first two hitters. OK, bear down and see what happens.”

Ted Lilly was the latest victim of lousy luck in Oakland’s starting rotation. He allowed three hits and struck out five over six innings, allowing only Mueller’s 15th homer.

Lilly again didn’t get enough help from his teammates. The left-hander has received the AL’s third-lowest run support this season.

“It just didn’t work out for us,” Lilly said. “Those two runs just weren’t enough.”

Red Sox starter Tim Wakefield allowed five hits over six innings, matching his season high with eight strikeouts while walking four. In the third, Tejada swung and missed at a pitch that Wakefield threw at 61 mph.

Chavez ended a Red Sox rally in the top of the seventh when he snared Damian Jackson’s line drive at third and then doubled off Kapler at first base.

In the fifth, Tejada punched a two-out, two-run single that scored JoseGuillen and Chavez.

Notes

A’s OF Eric Byrnes is batting .095 (9-for-95) in 28 games since hitting for the cycle on June 29. … Jackson, a Bay area native, has played every position this season except pitcher and catcher. … Oakland Coliseum PA announcer Roy Steele announced Lilly’s balk in the fourth inning as a “natural balk.” … A’s 1B Scott Hatteberg broke an 0-for-12 streak with his double in second inning. … Mueller set a career high with his 60th RBI. He drove in 59with the Giants in 1998.

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