Red Sox 3, Orioles 2
BOSTON (AP)—Mark Bellhorn’s line drive headed for center field, and his teammates were in hot pursuit.
Even before Dave Roberts and Bill Mueller scored to give Boston a 3-2 victory over the Baltimore Orioles, the Red Sox were pouring out of the dugout to celebrate Bellhorn’s two-out single and the end of a three-game losing streak that threatened to end Boston’s dwindling chances at an AL East title.
“It’s not the time of year to lose four in a row,” said manager Terry Francona, whose Red Sox came within an out of doing that after Javy Lopez hit a last-strike, two-run homer in the top of the ninth to put the Orioles up 2-1.
Curt Schilling cruised through eight innings, striking out a season-high 14 as he went for his major league-leading 21st victory. But given a 1-0 lead on Kevin Millar’s eighth-inning sacrifice fly, Keith Foulke (4-3) gave up Lopez’s two-run homer on a 3-2 pitch with two outs in the ninth.
B.J. Ryan (3-6) walked Kevin Youkilis in the bottom half, and Mueller doubled off the Green Monster for his career-high fourth hit. Pinch-hitter David McCarty popped up foul of first base, then Johnny Damon struck out looking.
Jorge Julio came on to face Bellhorn, who had already struck out twice in the game and 161 times in the season—one shy of the franchise record. Bellhorn laced a pitch to deep center field, out of the reach of Larry Bigbie.
“Up and down. Up and down. That’s playoff, late September baseball,” Schilling said. “Find a way. And we did.”
Boston, which opened a 5 1/2 -game lead over Anaheim in the AL wild-card race, kept pace with the New York Yankees, who beat Toronto 5-3 to preserve their 4 1/2 -game lead in the AL East. The Red Sox and Yankees will play three times this weekend at Fenway Park.
Schilling pitched eight innings of three-hit ball, walking one and allowing just two runners to reach second base; both times he struck out the remaining batters in the inning. Rodrigo Lopez nearly matched Schilling, allowing one run and five hits and striking out seven in seven-plus innings.
But the game was still scoreless when the umpires came out to check his cap in the bottom of the eighth, and he walked the first two batters of the half-inning.
“I got tired and couldn’t get the ball down. I wasn’t worried about the hat thing,” Lopez said. “I didn’t pay attention. I’ve been pitching a long time and I know I don’t need to bring anything else to the mound. I have nothing to hide.”
But Lopez walked Damon and Bellhorn, then Jason Grimsley came on to face Manny Ramirez and got him to bounce the ball to the left side. Third baseman Melvin Mora’s only play was to first, allowing the runners to advance.
David Ortiz was intentionally walked, then Ryan came on to face Millar, who was pinch hitting, Millar lofted a short, looping fly down the right field line; David Newhan caught it, spun and threw to the plate, but it wasn’t in time to get Damon.
Foulke came in for the save and allowed Miguel Tejada’s one-out single and then got ahead 0-2 in the count against Lopez, who then worked it full. Lopez followed with a drive over the Green Monster for his 20th homer.
The Red Sox had allowed nine or more runs in each of their previous three games. But Schilling is 7-0 following a Boston loss and he pitched well enough to win again.
It was his fourth game of the season with at least 10 strikeouts and the 90th of his career—sixth-most in major league history. He threw 114 pitches, 90 for strikes.
Lopez entered with just 35 career wins, eight against Boston; he was 3-0 with a 1.06 ERA against the Red Sox this year. He had won three consecutive starts and hasn’t lost since Aug. 18.
Bellhorn had two strikeouts to give him 161 for the season, one shy of the franchise record set by Butch Hobson in 1977. … Orioles 1B Rafael Palmeiro is day to day with a right hamstring strain. “Its a just a slight strain,” said Palmeiro, who said he injured it rounding second base in the fifth inning of Mondays win. … Boston recalled RHP Byung-Hyun Kim from Triple-A. … Red Sox SS Orlando Cabrera is expected back in the lineup Wednesday after being with his wife during surgery in Bogota, Colombia.