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Sox advance on white-knuckle win
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10/06/2003 11:33 PM ET 
Sox advance on white-knuckle win
Ramirez belts three-run shot; scary moment for Damon
By Ian Browne / MLB.com

Jason Varitek gets high fives after hitting a solo home run in the sixth inning. (Eric Risberg/AP)
OAKLAND -- Their ace was in the dugout after 100 pitches of grit. Their center fielder was in the hospital, getting precautionary X-rays after a jarring collision. Their former closer was forced into being a closer again under emergency circumstances.

But as they've done so many times this year, the Red Sox were able to overcome adversity.

And this time, their resilience brought them right to the American League Championship, where they will meet up with their rivals from the Bronx.

This, after the Sox rode a three-run homer from Manny Ramirez and then held on for dear life, edging the A's by a 4-3 score Monday night to close out decisive Game 5 of what was an epic American League Division Series.

The Sox became the fourth team in the nine-year history of the Division Series to overcome an 0-2 deficit. They joined the 1995 Mariners, the 2001 Yankees and yes, those Sox of 1999.

    Derek Lowe   /   P
Height: 6'6"
Weight: 205
Bats/Throws: R/R

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"It's a great team effort to be down, 2-0, and to know that even if you win Game 3, you're looking at (Tim) Hudson and (Barry) Zito," said Sox right-hander Derek Lowe. "Zito's won a Cy Young, Hudson easily could have won one, if not more. It was a daunting task."

It was a task not completed until Lowe came out of the 'pen and recorded the final three outs for his first save since Aug. 12, 2001.

Ace Pedro Martinez earned the win, going seven innings, plus two batters in the eighth. He gave up three runs and seven hits while striking out six and had to watch the final two innings of sheer tension from the bench.

"It was great to be out there and compete, especially after such a long trip, being up every day and ready to pitch every day, even if I threw 130 pitches (in Game 1)," said Martinez.

The bullpen had one of its finest hours of the season, recording the last six outs, not to mention earning all three victories of this series.

It all ended with the bases loaded and two outs, as Lowe -- pitching on a day of rest after his Game 3 start -- got Terrence Long looking on an inside sinker.

The man with 85 career saves came on to save the game and the series after Scott Williamson -- working for the third consecutive day -- walked the first two batters in the inning.

All three victories for the Red Sox were equally agonizing, just like so many of the 95 they recorded during the regular season.

"This is the ultimate," said Sox GM Theo Epstein. "That's baseball right there. That's why it's better than any other game. To have that kind of prolonged intensity. The way we did it was showing character, right down to the last pitch of the game. Very, very fitting."

    Johnny Damon   /   CF
Height: 6'2"
Weight: 190
Bats/Throws: L/L

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The dramatic win was marred only by Johnny Damon being temporarily knocked unconscious and suffering a concussion in the seventh inning after colliding with Damian Jackson on a bloop to center. Damon was alert and awake when he was taken to the hospital for precautionary tests.

His CT-Scan came back normal, and the Red Sox should get more information in the next 24 hours on when he'll be able to return to the lineup

Just like the '99 Sox, the reward for coming back from 0-2 is the Yankees in the ALCS. This time, the Sox hope to win, and get to the World Series for the first time since 1986.

In the early innings, the duel between Martinez and Zito lived up to every bit of its hype, as both pitchers were untouchable.


"This is the ultimate. That's baseball right there. That's why it's better than any other game. To have that kind of prolonged intensity. The way we did it was showing character, right down to the last pitch of the game. Very, very fitting."
-- GM Theo Epstein

The A's struck first in the bottom of the fourth. Scott Hatteberg did what he does best, drawing a two-out walk against Martinez. Hatteberg scored when Jose Guillen hit a rocket into the gap in right-center. Guillen tried to stretch the hit into a triple and was thrown out easily to end the inning.

The rebuttal from the Sox came in the sixth, as they attacked Zito, who was working on three days' rest.

Jason Varitek led off with a vicious solo blast over the wall in left to tie it up.

Damon then walked and moved to second when Todd Walker was hit by a pitch.

That set up a golden opportunity for Ramirez to have his first breakout moment of the series. Ramirez did just that, taking a high fastball from Zito and depositing it over the wall in left for a three-run homer that made it 4-1 Sox.

The homer gave Ramirez his first three RBIs of the series.

    Manny Ramirez   /   LF
Height: 6'0"
Weight: 205
Bats/Throws: R/R

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"I have a lot of confidence in myself," Ramirez said. "All the time at bat, I was looking in and he gave me the fastball and I drove it to left field."

Give the A's credit for this. They didn't let that deflate them. Back they came in their half of the sixth, as Erubiel Durazo stroked a one-out double. That set up Miguel Tejada, who smacked an RBI double to right-center in almost the exact spot to cut the lead to 4-2.

Zito came out after six and Ted Lilly, working with one day of rest, mowed down the Sox in order in the seventh.

The bottom of the seventh was marred by the severe, head-on collision between Jackson and Damon.

As for the game, the drama kept building. With one out in the bottom of the eighth, Chris Singleton doubled to right. Pinch-hitter Billy McMillon smacked an RBI single, slicing the lead to 4-3. Just as big as cutting into the deficit for the A's was the fact that Martinez was removed from the game following the hit, which was on his 100th pitch of the night.

"Pedro Martinez pitched his heart out tonight," said Sox manager Grady Little. "We couldn't ask for any more right there in the seventh inning and it was time to turn it over to those guys."

Those guys -- I.E. the bullpen -- rose to the challenge. Alan Embree got lefties Durazo and Chavez, and Mike Timlin induced Tejada into an inning-ending groundout.

But that drama paled in comparison to what would happen an inning later. It all ended happily for the Sox, who mobbed Lowe in a fit of celebration.

"I'm proud of everyone in this clubhouse," Varitek said. "There isn't one person in this clubhouse who hasn't faced some form of adversity this year."

When you stare adversity down, you keep playing. The Sox will play next Wednesday night in Game 1 of the ALCS at Yankee Stadium.

Ian Browne is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.



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