Surhoff, O's keep Red Sox blue, 9-6

Veteran's grand slam paces ragged 9-6 win

Boston loses 3rd in row

September 21, 2004|By Roch Kubatko | Roch Kubatko,SUN STAFF

BOSTON - Reluctant to embrace their role as spoilers in another season where pennant races are run without them, the Orioles must cozy up to it once in a while.

It could be worse. They could be playing last-place teams in empty ballparks, instead of tormenting Red Sox Nation in jam-packed Fenway Park. Now that's living.

B.J. Surhoff hit a grand slam off Tim Wakefield last night, Melvin Mora atoned for two mental lapses with a bases-empty shot in the ninth, and the Orioles prevented Boston from inching closer to first place with a 9-6 victory that had its share of ragged plays and antacid moments.

The last of five relievers, Jorge Julio, recorded his 22nd save with an uneventful ninth - one of the few times the game was calm.

"It was real strange," manager Lee Mazzilli said. "It was a game of perseverance."

"I need to go to bed," Mora said. "It made me tired. It was a crazy night."

One with a satisfying ending for the Orioles, who can't go worse than .500 on their last road trip. They also improved to 8-4 against Boston this season.

Asked for an explanation, Mazzilli said, "Luck? I don't know. You've just got to give the guys in there [the locker room] some credit."

The Orioles are 5-2 on the trip with three games remaining before their final homestand. They won last night despite an uneven performance from their starting pitcher, who was pulled one out short of qualifying for the decision with an 8-4 lead, and blunders that were more comical than critical given the outcome.

The Red Sox had one eye on the Orioles and the other on their scoreboard. They kept close watch on the New York Yankees, who failed to build on a 4 1/2 -game lead in the American League East.

The Yankees took two of three from the Red Sox over the weekend, outscoring them 27-8 and most likely relegating them to the wild card. Held to a .200 average and embarrassed by their mistakes, the Red Sox returned to Fenway Park in need of a lift.

What they got instead were 102 pitches out of Wakefield in 4 1/3 innings, two errors, a passed ball and a botched rundown that let Mora score in the fifth.

"I thought for a while," said Red Sox manager Terry Francona, "that it was as poor as we've played."

The Orioles (70-78) weren't putting on any clinics, but they did enough right to hand the Red Sox their third straight loss.

Riley was charged with four runs (three earned) in 4 2/3 innings. The Red Sox scored twice and had runners on second and third with two outs when Mazzilli brought in Todd Williams (2-0) to face Kevin Millar.

"We're trying to win a game, and that was the time to do it," Mazzilli said. "You don't want to, but that's what you have to do."

Manny Ramirez's bases-loaded double had shaved the Orioles' lead to 8-4, but Riley retired David Ortiz on a pop-up for the second out. Ortiz hit a two-run homer off him in the fourth, so the at-bat was especially tense.

Mazzilli took the ball from Riley rather than let him face Millar, who grounded out against Williams. Denied a chance to earn his first win since April 16, Riley shook his head and rubbed the back of his neck as he walked to the dugout.

"I was disappointed, but that's the manager's decision," said Riley, who retired the first eight batters. "He just wanted a better matchup. I understand."

Wakefield was probably grateful for the chance to leave after surrendering eight runs, walking five and hitting a batter.

One of his knucklers veered past catcher Doug Mirabelli in the second inning after Javy Lopez swung through it for a strikeout.

The bat flew from Lopez's hands, and he stood at home plate as Mirabelli chased the ball to the screen. He finally jogged to first, Millar caught Mirabelli's high throw in foul territory and stepped on the bag.

Wakefield struck out the side in the third, but Lopez walked with the bases loaded in the fourth to break a scoreless tie. Surhoff followed with his grand slam, the sixth of his career, for a 5-0 lead.

"It looked like he lost a little bit of his zone," Surhoff said.

The Orioles loaded the bases again in the fifth on a single and two walks, the last intentional after a double steal. Brian Roberts scored on a passed ball, setting up one of the strangest plays of the season.

Rafael Palmeiro walked with first base open, but Mora thought they were still loaded and began to trot home. Mirabelli raced toward him, and Mora stayed in the rundown for seven throws, the last one dropped by Millar at the plate.

"I don't know what I was thinking," he said. "Somebody yelled to me, `Go back, go back,' and I said, `Oh my God.'"

In the sixth, Mora tagged Mueller sliding into third base rather than stepping on it for the force. Mueller was safe, and Johnny Damon followed with an RBI single.

"I'm just going to look at the home run," Mazzilli said. "The other stuff, I'm going to overlook."

The Red Sox scored twice in the sixth, with both runs charged to Williams. Mazzilli used three relievers, Jason Grimsley getting a one-pitch out to preserve an 8-6 lead.

Orioles tonight

Opponent: Boston Red Sox

Site: Fenway Park, Boston

Time: 7:05

TV/Radio: Comcast SportsNet/WBAL (1090 AM)

Starters: Orioles' Rodrigo Lopez (13-8, 3.88) vs. Red Sox's Curt Schilling (20-6, 3.40)

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