Last-gasp homer foils Red Sox Brunansky's hit ends win streak American League

July 27, 1993|By Sean Horgan | Sean Horgan,The Hartford Courant

MILWAUKEE -- The Boston Red Sox's 10-game winning streak had been constructed with so many improbable building blocks that it was only fitting it come tumbling down in an improbable fashion.

And so it did last night, when former Red Sox outfielder Tom Brunansky, with one sweet swing of revenge, lined a two-run homer off closer Jeff Russell with two out in the ninth inning to lift the Milwaukee Brewers over the Red Sox, 3-2.

Brunansky's home run came just as it appeared the Red Sox would win their 11th in a row and take sole possession of first place in the American League East for the first time since April 23.

Brunansky's fifth homer had several ramifications: It dropped the Red Sox (55-44) into a second-place tie with the New York Yankees, a half-game behind the idle Toronto Blue Jays; it wasted a strong effort by Roger Clemens, who struck out five and walked one in seven innings; and it returned the Red Sox to the domain of the merely mortal.

"It's been a heck of a streak," manager Butch Hobson said. "I'd rather lose it that way than with an error or a walk with the bases loaded. In fact, I'm glad it was Bruno. If somebody was going to beat us with a home run, I'm glad it was him. I like him a lot. He's a class person."

Brunansky was with the Red Sox from May 4, 1990 -- when they acquired him from St. Louis for closer Lee Smith -- until last season.

But the Red Sox did not exercise their option and Brunansky became a free agent, signing with the Brewers. Until yesterday, it had not been a storybook season for him. He came in hitting .178, with four homers and 23 RBI.

In fact, Brunansky wasn't even supposed to be in the lineup. But Greg Vaughn (rib cage muscle) was scratched after batting practice and Brunansky replaced him.

"Ever since spring training, I hadn't felt good at the plate," Brunansky said. "And it has shown."

But not in his ninth-inning at-bat, when the Red Sox inexplicably pitched to his strength with B. J. Surhoff (bunt single) on first and two out.

Russell got a fastball over for a strike. "I had a good fastball tonight," he said. So good, in fact, the Red Sox wanted a different pitch to set up Brunansky for another fastball.

Catcher Tony Pena signaled for a curveball. Russell complied and Brunansky launched it into the left-field bleachers, an estimated 388 feet.

"That's the most frustrating part," said Russell (0-3, 2.75 ERA). "To get beat on a pitch that's not your best. But it happens. It happens."

The Red Sox led 2-1 on Clemens' pitching and Mo Vaughn's two-run homer in the fourth off Rafael Novoa, making his Brewers debut and his first appearance since 1990. Novoa, whose previous two starts came in 1990 with San Francisco, allowed two runs and five hits in eight innings. Graeme Lloyd (3-1, 2.28) got the final two outs.

Clemens allowed one run and five hits. "When I went out to warm up during batting practice, I noticed the ball was flying out of here," Clemens said. "So that was my main concern -- keeping the ball down and in the strike zone."

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