By splitting series, O's win over Red Sox

Boston manager Francona: `I can see why they are excited about their future'

April 09, 2004|By Peter Schmuck | Peter Schmuck,SUN STAFF

The Boston Red Sox left town last night with new-found respect for an old rival.

The rebuilt Orioles battled them for 13 innings to salvage a split of the four-game series at Camden Yards with a 3-2 victory, and sent them back to Boston for today's home opener more than a little tired and frustrated.

"We had chances to win, we had chances to lose," said Red Sox manager Terry Francona. "We found ways to keep the game going, but we didn't do enough offensively to win. When you're on the road and you get that deep into a game, you're playing with fire."

Francona, even as he shook off a distasteful defeat, took time to compliment the Orioles for a hard-fought series. The Orioles defeated Pedro Martinez in the season opener on Sunday night, then sent three inexperienced pitchers to the mound against one of baseball's most explosive teams.

Granted, the Red Sox were without injured offensive stars Nomar Garciaparra and Trot Nixon, but the young Orioles pitching staff still had to face off against one of the league's best rotations - and came away with a draw.

"I can see why they are excited about their future," said Francona. "When you look at those young guys, you can see why they like them."

Left-hander Matt Riley pitched 6 1/3 innings and gave up two runs (one earned) on three hits. He delivered a solid performance in a pressure-filled 2004 debut.

"He's a good young left-handed pitcher," Francona said. "I thought early in the game that the object was to get him to run up a high pitch count. I thought we could do that, but a couple innings we couldn't do that and he was able to get them to the point where their bullpen was very effective.

"That [B.J.] Ryan is some kind of pitcher and you can see that [Jorge] Julio is a different pitcher with the game on the line."

Wednesday night starter Derek Lowe, the beneficiary of the only generous offensive performance by the Red Sox, said last night that he is very impressed with the improvements that the Orioles made over the offseason.

"It's night and day," he said. "The organization has done a great job of adding to what I thought was a pretty good young nucleus, with [Brian] Roberts at the top and [Larry] Bigbie and [Jay] Gibbons becoming good hitters. They added an MVP [Miguel Tejada] and guys like [Rafael] Palmeiro and Javy [Lopez]. It's a very tough lineup."

How tough?

"They've got some pretty good pitching," he added. "There's no reason why they can't contend this year. They've got all the makings of a team that can do some damage. They have the makings of a very good team."

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