BOSTON (AP)—Coco Crisp sprinted into the gap, soared through the air and slammed to the ground—the ball and Boston’s winning streak safely in his grasp.
“That was one of the most exciting moments I’ve ever experienced on the baseball field,” teammate Mark Loretta said.
“One of the best catches I’ve ever seen when I’m pitching,” said 16-year veteran Mike Timlin.
Even the player who hit the ball marveled at the eighth-inning catch in left-center field that helped the Red Sox beat the New York Mets 4-2 Thursday night and stretch their winning streak to 12 games.
“It was one of the best plays I’ve ever seen,” David Wright said. “He got a great jump on it. That’s what happens when you’re playing well.”
The spectacular grab kept Boston ahead and preserved Curt Schilling’s 10th win. David Ortiz homered for an insurance run and Jonathan Papelbon pitched a perfect ninth for his 24th save in 26 chances, tying Dick Radatz’s club rookie record set in 1962.
New York dropped its third straight—the Mets had been the only team in the majors that hadn’t lost more than two in a row.
Crisp, who took over in center field after Johnny Damon left for the New York Yankees last offseason, got a great jump but wasn’t sure he’d reach Wright’s drive that would have scored Carlos Beltran and tied the score at 3.
“I didn’t think I was going to get there,” Crisp said. “I took a leap of faith and, because I was running so fast, I was able to hang in the air.”
After the graceful grab, Ortiz homered in the eighth for Boston, sealing a three-game sweep in a matchup of first-place teams. The Red Sox tied the longest winning streak in the majors since Houston won 12 in a row from Aug. 27 to Sept. 8, 2004.
Boston also tied the major league record of 16 straight errorless games set by the St. Louis Cardinals from July 30 to Aug. 16, 1992.
Schilling (10-2) became Boston’s second 10-game winner, one day after Josh Beckett reached the plateau. New York starter Tom Glavine faltered after five strong innings, failing to extend his big league-leading win total to 12.
“We came in here and we have been playing well, and these guys were playing well,” Glavine said, “two of the best teams in the major leagues record-wise. We didn’t live up to our end of the bargain.”
All of Boston’s 12 consecutive wins have come against NL teams, and the Red Sox used an NL style of play to push across the go-ahead run in this one.
Crisp led off the seventh with a bunt single against Aaron Heilman (0-3) and stole second. Alex Gonzalez put down a perfect sacrifice bunt, sending Crisp to third. Kevin Youkilis then lifted a sacrifice fly to left, making it 3-2.
“We played as good a game as we played in a long time,” Red Sox manager Terry Francona said.
Boston moved a season-high four games ahead of the New York Yankees in the AL East, while the Mets lead second-place Philadelphia by 11 in the NL East.
“It’s the same old thing,” Glavine said. “You’re never as good as when you’re playing well and as bad as when you’re not.”
New York threatened with two outs in the eighth against Timlin when Beltran singled. Wright then lined the ball that appeared to be curving away from Crisp, who had one thought.
“Just go catch it,” he said. “The only chance I had was to go directly at it.”
Ortiz gave Boston a cushion in the eighth with a homer to center field, his 23rd of the season and 200th of his career.
Schilling and Glavine dueled for five innings before both allowed two runs in the sixth
The Mets went ahead 2-0 on Beltran’s 22nd homer after a two-out single by Paul Lo Duca.
The Red Sox tied it when Glavine, in his second-shortest outing of the year, left after failing to retire any of the first three batters. Loretta led off with his third homer, Ortiz doubled and Manny Ramirez walked.
Heilman relieved and got Mike Lowell on a flyout to Beltran in deep center. The slow-footed Ortiz tagged up and slid in safely at third, and Ramirez advanced to second. Ortiz’s hustle paid off when he scored on Jason Varitek’s sacrifice fly.
Through five innings, Schilling and Glavine gave up just three hits each.
Glavine didn’t allow a ball out of the infield until Loretta singled with one out in the fourth for Boston’s first hit. Schilling let just one runner reach second in the first five innings, Julio Franco, and Schilling picked him off to end the fifth.
For the first time in 28 seasons at Fenway Park, according to the Elias Sports Bureau, two starters with more than 200 career wins faced each other: Glavine with 286 and Schilling, who now has 202. On Sept. 11, 1978, Boston’s Luis Tiant (with 201 wins) pitched against Baltimore’s Jim Palmer (212).
Cliff Floyd went 0-for-2 with a walk and played left field for seven innings of a rehab game with Class-A Brooklyn. New York manager Willie Randolph said there was a chance Floyd could play for the Mets on Friday night at Yankee Stadium. … Lo Duca was back behind the plate after serving as the DH in New York’s 10-2 loss Wednesday night. … Boston’s last error was by Youkilis at first base in the first inning on June 11 against Texas.