07/09/2003 10:53 PM ET
Sox pound Jays bullpen to earn win
By Stephanie J. Geosits / Special to MLB.com
TORONTO -- Manny Ramirez and his bat propelled Boston to an 8-7 victory over the Blue Jays and their struggling bullpen on Wednesday night at SkyDome.
Following a pitcher's duel Tuesday, the league's top-hitting teams broke out the lumber on Wednesday, and just as they did the night before, the Red Sox overtook Toronto's relievers.
"There were some big hits out there and they came at opportune times," said Red Sox manager Grady Little. "It's nothing that we haven't been seeing a lot this year. We keep coming back, and if the door just cracks open, we've been able to crash through on a lot of occasions and that's good."
Boston improved to 52-37 and won its second of the three-game series. The Blue Jays dropped to 48-43 following the contest that included 25 hits and 11 pitchers.
Ramirez homered in the eighth to start a four-run, game-tying rally and then led off the ninth with a triple. David Ortiz doubled him home for the winning run against Jeff Tam (0-4), who was also the loser on Tuesday night.
"Manny's capable of doing anything," Little said. "Those two (hits) came at a good time -- the solo home run and the other one just missed going out of that park, too, that got loose out there in left-center. He does a good job. He's a guy you want up there in the crunches like that."
Ortiz also came through in a pinch, much as he has been doing.
"David's been getting big hits a lot for us this year and Jason Varitek also there had an awfully big hit (a two-run double in the eighth)," Little said. "These guys -- they just keep coming through. When they get down a little bit in the game, they're never completely out of a lot of games. They feel like they have a chance and tonight was just another night like that."
Brandon Lyon (4-5) pitched the eighth for Boston and recorded the win. Byung-Hyun Kim recorded struck out the side in the ninth, including Carlos Delgado with one out and a runner on second, to earn his third save in three attempts and his second in two nights.
Kim had to convince Little in a meeting on the mound to let him pitch to the Blue Jays slugger instead of walking him.
"He's confident almost to the point of arrogance," Red Sox catcher Doug Mirabelli said of the newly-designated closer. "That's the type of guy you want on the mound in those situations."
To lead off the eighth, Ramirez greeted reliever Tanyon Sturtze with his 21st home run of the season to cut Toronto's lead to 7-4. The homer was also Ramirez's 19th at SkyDome, tying him with Texas' Alex Rodriguez for the most by an opponent in the park.
Sturtze just couldn't get it right and walked Ortiz on a 3-2 pitch after going ahead 0-2 in the count. After a single by Kevin Millar, Sturtze left to a chorus of boos and Trever Miller entered the game with two on and no one out. Eric Hinske bobbled a routine grounder off the bat of Johnny Damon while trying to make a play at third base for an error, loading the bases for Boston. Two runs scored when Jason Varitek doubled to left-center to close the gap to 7-6.
Aquilino Lopez came in to face pinch-hitter Nomar Garciaparra, who was supposed to have the night off. Garciaparra responded by smacking a sacrifice fly to left field to tie the game at 7. Jason Kershner recorded the last out of the inning.
Juan Acevedo relieved Tam with two out and two on in the ninth and struck out Garciaparra.
Red Sox starter Derek Lowe failed to win an eighth-straight decision, but was spared the loss, despite giving up seven runs on 11 hits in six innings. He walked two batters and struck out three. Chad Fox pitched the seventh.
"We're 90 games into the year and the most losses a starter has is four -- pretty amazing," Lowe said. "The rest of us have three or less which tells you that this offense never quits, especially late. Late in the game they come back -- I can't tell you how many times. As starters we benefit sometimes from the standpoint where you don't get losses."
For Toronto, Kelvim Escobar struggled at the start, but settled in to last seven innings. The right-hander gave up three runs on eight hits and three walks. He fanned four batters prior to ceding the mound to Sturtze for the eighth.
Both teams got on the board early with the Red Sox scoring two runs in the first and the Blue Jays answering with three of their own in the bottom of the frame. Boston knotted the game at 3 in the top of the second, and it would stay that way until Toronto pulled ahead 5-3 in the fifth.
Frank Catalanotto, who went 5-for-5, took Lowe deep in the sixth with a two-out, two-run homer to put Toronto up 7-3. Chris Woodward singled with one out before Catalanotto's eighth home run of the year allowed him to score.
Trot Nixon led off the game with a double after going 0-for-6 on Tuesday night. He advanced on an infield hit by Bill Mueller and scored on a Todd Walker sac fly. Ortiz plated Mueller and put Boston up 2-0.
In the second, Damon singled, stole second and scored on Varitek's RBI single tie the game at 3 after RBIs by Wells, Carlos Delgado and Reed Johnson in the bottom of the first.
Stephanie J. Geosits is a contributor to MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.