Red Sox 6, Athletics 5

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BOSTON (AP)—Winning games with last-swing homers is becoming routine for the Boston Red Sox.

Jason Varitek hit one Wednesday, a day after Kevin Millar did it, and Octavio Dotel of the Oakland Athletics served up both one-out fastballs that landed in the seats.

“You don’t want to make a living doing it the way we’ve done it the last two games,” Millar said after Boston’s 6-5 win Wednesday, “but this team never gives up.”

Boston kept charging after Keith Foulke’s collapse in the top of the ninth. The closer gave up four runs, capped by Eric Byrnes’ two-run homer that put Oakland ahead 5-4, and saw his ERA rise to 7.94.

But for the second straight game Dotel (1-2) walked David Ortiz in the bottom of the ninth. Then Varitek’s shot down the right-field line barely cleared the low fence just inside the foul pole for his seventh homer of the year.

“I was trying to use the middle of the field. (I) didn’t want to try to do too much,” Varitek said.

The ball jammed him and that might have helped because “If I had gotten fully extended, I think I would have pulled it foul,” Varitek said.

Right fielder Bobby Kielty jumped against the wall to try to catch the ball, but it landed about two rows into the stands.

“I went in there with the intention of catching it,” Kielty said. “I thought I came pretty close.”

There was far less doubt the previous night about Millar’s shot clearing the left field wall. Boston won that game 3-2 and now has won its last nine against Oakland.

“I felt good today. I forgot about yesterday,” Dotel said. “Same finish. Different hitter.”

The Red Sox had built a 4-1 lead behind seven strong innings by starter Matt Clement and a two-run homer by Manny Ramirez, his first in 12 games. But they almost lost because Foulke, who was on the mound for the final out of Boston’s sweep of last year’s World Series against St. Louis, struggled to put his pitches where he wanted.

“It doesn’t matter what I did yesterday or the day before,” said Foulke (2-3), who converted his previous five save opportunities. “It’s all about today and today was horrible.”

Dotel got into trouble when he walked Ortiz to lead off the inning. Millar hit a long drive that Byrnes caught in left field. That brought up switch-hitter Varitek, batting lefty against the right-hander.

Dotel threw a fastball on a 1-1 count, the same pitch he threw to Millar the previous day.

“I think a lot of teams go away quietly” when they’re behind, Boston manager Terry Francona said. “Fortunately, we don’t.”

In the last eight games, Boston is 7-1 and Oakland is 1-7.

“I’m not mad at our players, scoring the four runs in the ninth,” Athletics manager Ken Macha said. “Nobody out on that field can be blamed for lack of effort.”

Foulke started the ninth by striking out Erubiel Durazo. Kielty walked and Scott Hatteberg, who already had grounded into two double plays, hit a grounder to second baseman Mark Bellhorn.

He threw to shortstop Edgar Renteria for the force at second, but Hatteberg kept Oakland’s hopes alive by beating the throw to first. Mario Scutaro’s double sent Hatteberg to third and Keith Ginter doubled in two runs.

Byrnes then hit a 2-2 pitch for his fourth homer.

The Red Sox took a 2-0 lead in the second. Ortiz led off with a double, Varitek doubled in one run and Bill Mueller singled in the other.

Johnny Damon doubled in the third to extend his hitting streak to 17 games, the longest current one in the majors. Ramirez then hit Barry Zito’s first pitch to him into the first row of seats above the left field wall for his ninth homer.

The only run Clement allowed came on a double by Durazo and Kielty’s single in the fourth.


Damon’s hitting streak is one less than his career high. … The Red Sox have allowed three homers in their last eight games. … Zito increased his major league high to six hit batsmen. … Oakland C Jason Kendall is 2-for-30 in his last eight games after going 0-for-5 on Wednesday.

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