Orioles 9, Red Sox 3
BOSTON (AP)—Sammy Sosa returned to the scene of his first major league homer and hit his first since April 24. He had plenty of company in Baltimore’s power surge.
Sosa’s homer was his 579th, four behind Mark McGwire, who is sixth on the all-time list. His first came at Fenway Park off Roger Clemens on June 21, 1989, when he was with Texas.
“That was a long time ago,” Sosa said.
It also was a long time since his last homer, and he has only five this season. He entered the game just 4-for-27 in eight games since returning from the disabled list and went 1-for-4 Wednesday with only one ball out of the infield.
“I’ve been off a little bit,” Sosa said. “Sometimes, especially a hitter like me, you know you’re going to take a little time, but it’s going to come sooner or later because I’m the type of person that goes to the cage every day trying to find my stroke.”
He nearly homered Tuesday in the second inning of Boston’s 5-1 win, but center fielder Johnny Damon caught the ball near the wall in right-center field.
Tejada scored three runs and had four of Baltimore’s 11 hits, three of them doubles. The Orioles had plenty of offense despite missing four sidelined starters. AL batting leader Brian Roberts was sidelined with a sore shoulder, while Javy Lopez, Luis Matos and Larry Bigbie are on the disabled list.
“Every time one of our guys goes down, the guy we put in always does a great job,” Tejada said after the Orioles’ second win in six games increased their AL East lead at four games.
Chris Gomez, replacing Roberts, doubled in the second before Gil, playing for catcher Lopez, hit his second homer of the year off Tim Wakefield (4-5). The Orioles made it 5-0 in the third on Tejada’s 14th homer and Sosa’s shot to left field.
“I just didn’t have very good stuff at all,” said Wakefield, who is 0-4 with and 8.74 ERA in his last four starts. “I tried to battle through the whole game.”
Sidney Ponson (6-3) had a shutout until allowing three unearned runs in the seventh inning.
“Boston’s one of those teams that always has my number. But it’s a new year, my first game against them and I was able to change speeds,” said Ponson, who entered the game with a 2-9 record and 6.70 ERA against the Red Sox.
Shoppach was playing because Boston manager Terry Francona decided to rest starting catcher Jason Varitek for Thursday’s afternoon game against Baltimore after Varitek’s groundout ended the sixth inning with the Red Sox down 7-0.
“I want (Varitek) to catch a lot,” Francona said. “If I said I regretted (the decision) I’d be wrong. I don’t do anything without thinking it through, but, at the same time, I’m aware of the situation (Shoppach) came up in.”
Shoppach had been called up to the majors for the first time last Friday and was 0-for-5 when he failed in the seventh as the potential tying run. Boston already had scored three runs in the inning on Damon’s sacrifice fly and Manny Ramirez’s two-run single.
The Orioles had made it 6-0 in the fifth on a double by Tejada, a walk to Rafael Palmeiro and an RBI single by B.J. Surhoff. It was 7-0 in the fifth when Gomez was hit by a pitch and stole second but was thrown out by right fielder Trot Nixon on David Newhan’s single. Newhan took second on the throw and scored on Melvin Mora’s single.
Baltimore’s last two runs scored on sacrifice flies in the ninth by Palmeiro and Surhoff.
Baltimore’s 15-6 road record is the best in the majors. … The start of the game was delayed a few minutes when Damon retrieved a cell phone from the warning track in left-center field. … The Orioles have 74 homers, second in the majors to Texas. … Boston’s David Ortiz reached base four times on two singles and two walks. … Wakefield gave up three homers in three innings after allowing two in five starts during May.