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Red Sox rally falls short10/13/2004 1:45 AM ET
By Ian Browne / MLB.com
NEW YORK -- They came out wanting to give the Yankees something to worry about. They wanted to keep the hostile crowd of 56,135 as quiet as possible. More than anything, the Red Sox wanted to jump out front in this American League Championship Series against their rivals from the Bronx.
As improbable as all of this seemed over the first six innings, which were nothing short of nightmarish, the Red Sox made their goals a realistic possibility with a comeback that was stirring while it lasted.
By the time it all ended, the Yankees were left standing with a 10-7 victory over the Red Sox that wound up being far more difficult and dramatic than anyone expected.
"It was a great game," said Red Sox slugger Manny Ramirez. "We came back [eight] to nothing. At least we let them know we can come back at any time."
Not only did the Sox nearly offset what was arguably Curt Schilling's shakiest performance of the season, they also managed to resuscitate their bats, even after Mike Mussina had pitched 6 1/3 perfect innings en route to an 8-0 lead.
In yet the latest example of how you can always expect the unexpected when the Red Sox and Yankees tangle, David Ortiz stunned Yankee Stadium by roping a two-run triple off the glove of left fielder Hideki Matsui with two outs in the eighth, making it an 8-7 game.
There were those who thought Ortiz's shot had enough legs to tie the game up.
"I thought it was going to go out, but I guess the wind held it in a little," said Ramirez. "It was a great piece of hitting."
So great, in fact, that it prompted the Yankees to go to their ace closer, Mariano Rivera. Because of a family tragedy in Panama, Rivera didn't even get to Yankee Stadium until the second inning. But that was more than enough time to remind everyone why he is the game's elite closer, particularly at this time of year.
But what could have been a comeback for the ages fell short. Rivera got Kevin Millar on a popup to end the eighth. And in the ninth, after the Sox had brought the tying run to the plate, Rivera was able to induce Bill Mueller into a game-ending, 1-6-3 double play.
"That's why he's the best in the game," said Millar. "This guy is phenomenal."
For one of few times this season, 21-game winner Schilling was far less than phenomenal. Bothered by tendinitis in his right ankle, Schilling (three innings, six hits, six runs) couldn't generate enough power on his fastball and didn't locate the way he's accustomed to.
"The Yankees beat me tonight. We're going to take the loss. But they beat me tonight," said a frustrated Schilling. "The bell rang and I couldn't answer it. I couldn't [push off]. We did everything we could do to try and fix it. It just wasn't working. I was trying as hard as I could to make adjustments but I couldn't get it done."
Now, the Sox hope Schilling's ankle can show enough improvement for his Game 5 start not to be in jeopardy.
"It's way too early. You're getting so far ahead," said Sox manager Terry Francona. "He just didn't look right. We were trying to give him every opportunity because his heart's so big and he has the ability to reach back."
Even in defeat, the Red Sox showed the type of comeback magic that marked what the Yankees did to the Twins in their Division Series.
"That was a game they were supposed to win easy," said Ortiz. "We let them know this isn't going to be easy. We never give up. We just keep on playing the game. That's the way we're supposed to do it."
But the New York offense had the last word, riding a two-run double to left by Bernie Williams against Mike Timlin in the bottom of the eighth to stretch the lead back out to three runs.
Who could have imagined this scenario the way Mussina was dealing? The right-hander was trying to do what only Don Larsen had done previously, and that occurred way back in 1956, also at Yankee Stadium.
With one out in the seventh, Mark Bellhorn staved off history, ripping a double to left to snap Mussina's bid at perfection. Boston's first hit of the night turned out to be the impetus for a full-fledged rally.
"You just keep battling and hoping he makes a mistake, but he didn't make many of them tonight," said Millar. "He threw a great game. You tip your hat to Mussina."
Ortiz struck a two-out double to right and Millar put the Sox on the board with a two-run double that sliced New York's lead to 8-2. Trot Nixon's RBI single up the middle forced Mussina out of the game.
And then Jason Varitek, who was hitless in his previous 36 at-bats at Yankee Stadium, greeted reliever Tanyon Sturtze with a two-run homer to right. Suddenly, it was an 8-5 game.
"We didn't panic on the bench, so that was a good sign," said Varitek. "There was a lot of game left."
How did this early innings night unravel so quickly for the Sox? It was simple. For one of precious few times this season, Schilling just didn't have it.
The Yankees pounded him succinctly, as even their outs were hard. It was 6-0 after three innings, at which point Schilling was removed from the game.
For Schilling, it was just the second time in 13 postseason starts that he gave up more than two earned runs.
Matsui got the Yankees on the board in the first, reaching down and lining a low pitch past left fielder Manny Ramirez and into the gap for an RBI double. Then Williams squirted an RBI single into center to make it 2-0.
That lead loomed large in the early innings as Mussina was in top form, mowing down the first nine Boston batters he faced on just 34 pitches.
Schilling was unable to establish anything.
Said Schilling: "I came in after the second inning and told [pitching coach] Dave [Wallace], 'I can't reach back and make it come out, so we're going to have to make pitches.'"
The Yankees brought him to the point of no return in the bottom of the third. Matsui cleared the bases with a three-run double off the wall in right.
Jorge Posada's sac fly gave the Yankees a commanding 6-0 lead before the Sox came to bat in the fourth.
It was quite a shift in fortune for Schilling, who entered this start with a 6-1 record and 1.74 ERA in 12 postseason starts.
While Schilling was down in the heat of a tough loss, his teammates were confident he'll make an impact on the rest of the series.
"His start's not for a while," said Millar. "We have a lot of games left. This game is over. We'll worry about schilling when his start comes up. I think he'll be back out there."
This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.
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