10/05/2003 1:20 AM ET
Lowe delivers a gem
Starter tosses solid game amidst controversy, drama
BOSTON -- The fact that Red Sox starter Derek Lowe didn't earn the victory after seven effective innings on the mound against Oakland in Game 3 of the ALDS was of minor consequence on Saturday.
It mattered. It just didn't matter the most.
The result that will be the most remembered in the annals of Red Sox history is a 3-1 Boston victory against Oakland in a do-or-die contest to cap off a grand and bizarre night at Fenway Park.
It was Trot Nixon's game-winning home run in the 11th that sealed the win and sent the boisterous 35,460 fans in attendance into a frenzy. But it was Lowe who did his part during the first seven innings to keep the Oakland offense from doing the same.
"He was outstanding," Red Sox manager Grady Little said of Lowe. "He pitched very well and we couldn't ask any more of him after coming back from the two innings he threw the other night. He was outstanding."
By Jesse Sanchez / MLB.com
Lowe cruised through the better part of the first three innings, retiring the first eight batters he faced before giving up a single to Eric Byrnes with two outs. But Byrnes' stay at first base did not last.
Lowe recovered to strike out Billy McMillon to end the frame and secure Boston's 1-0 lead.
"It was a game plan that we stuck to from the beginning," Lowe said. "They are a very patient team, especially early in the count, and then they get aggressive. Our game plan was to throw a lot of strikes to get into pitcher's counts."
Three more batters in the fourth resulted in three more outs for Lowe. The sinkerballer was on a roll and it appeared as nothing could stop him.
Well, almost nothing.
After a scoreless fifth, Lowe's momentum slowed and chaos surfaced in the sixth with a 1-0 lead. Byrnes acted as the catalyst with another single.
Byrnes stole second base and eventually reached third base on a groundout. He appeared on his way to an easy run, the Athletics' first of the game, on a slow roller hit near the mound that Lowe fielded and threw away at home.
But he didn't score.
Byrnes slid. Varitek blocked the plate. The ball rolled away.
But as Byrnes limped around the area behind home plate -- and even pushed Varitek who was retrieving the ball -- he was tagged out in the area behind the plate to keep Lowe's shutout in tact.
Erubiel Durazo, who reached via base on balls, eventually scored on a misplayed ball by Nomar Garciaparra. The chaos continued on the play when Tejada, who was rounding third base, ran into Red Sox third baseman Bill Mueller. Tejada, who stopped running midway down the third baseline, was eventually tagged out by Varitek before reaching the plate to end the inning.
Obstruction was not ruled because Tejada stopped running.
"If (Byrnes) touches home, he's safe. If Varitek touches him, he's out," Lowe said. "So it was a crazy inning, but only getting out of it -- giving up one run and keeping this offense in the game -- made it a big inning."
Jesse Sanchez is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.
"He was outstanding. He pitched very well and we couldn't ask any more of him after coming back from the two innings he threw the other night. He was outstanding."
-- Grady Little on Derek Lowe