BOSTON -- When Butch Hobson pulled starting pitcher Mike Gardiner with two out in the seventh inning yesterday, he had a lot of people questioning his motive, not to mention his sanity.
By the time the inning was over, the rookie Red Sox manager was wondering if he ever was going to push the right button. The Orioles got three straight hits off reliever Peter Hoy, scoring three times to tie the score, 4-4.
"I was thinking everything I do ain't working," Hobson said. "Maybe this will turn it around."
The Red Sox came back to score in the eighth inning on a two-runsingle by Jody Reed, who feasts off the Orioles, and held on for a 6-5 win.
As it turned out, Hobson removed Gardiner more for precautionary purposes than anything else. The right-hander started the game with spasms in his upper back -- but didn't inform his manager.
"I didn't find out until the third inning," Hobson said. "He was in pain . . . a lot of pain. But I didn't know it before the game."
Asked if he would have held Gardiner had he known his condition, Hobson said: "Only if he told me he couldn't go."
Instead, Hobson decided to closely monitor Gardiner, who gave up five hits. "We watched him very close [after the third inning] and had Hoyready to go if anybody got on base in the seventh."
When Chris Hoiles grounded a single to left, Gardiner was an unpopular departure. Especially after Hoy gave up a pinch double to Mark McLemore, another two-base hit to Brady Anderson and a single to Joe Orsulak.
"It was one of those days," Hoy said. "I couldn't make a pitch insideto the left-handed hitters. These things are going to happen, but I was disappointed with my effort."
Hobson finally went to Greg Harris, who shut down the Orioles for four innings on Monday and retired all four batters he faced yesterday to get the victory. "I've told those guys [relievers] they're all going to be used in those situations," said Hobson, explaining his decision to use Hoy instead of going right to Harris. "I've got to get them in there sometime."
The Red Sox comeback an inning later got Hobson off the hook and gave him his first win at Fenway Park.
"Maybe this will get us going," said Hobson, fully aware that he and his players are under close scrutiny by the Fenway fanatics.