Red Sox get last 2-out laugh, 3-2

O's foil Foulke for 2 in 9th, but Ryan, Julio blow lead

September 22, 2004|By ROCH KUBATKO | ROCH KUBATKO,SUN STAFF

BOSTON - For Mark Bellhorn to beat the Orioles last night, he had to reverse the odds as abruptly as the outcome.

Bellhorn singled with two outs in the ninth off Jorge Julio to score two runs and give the Boston Red Sox a 3-2 victory before 35,083 that left plenty of room for second-guessing.

Javy Lopez hit a two-out, two- run homer off Red Sox closer Keith Foulke in the ninth to hand the Orioles a 2-1 lead. Lopez's second homer since Aug. 20 silenced a sellout crowd.

It didn't stay that way for long. Pinch hitter Kevin Youkilis walked and Bill Mueller doubled with none out off B.J. Ryan. The Orioles left-hander retired the next two batters, then stormed off the mound when manager Lee Mazzilli brought in Julio.

Bellhorn, a left-handed batter, was hitting .305 against left- handers. Bellhorn was hitting .236 against right-handers before the game, and went 0-for-3 against Rodrigo Lopez, but he reached the right-center-field gap on a 2-1 fastball from Julio.

Mazzilli defended his move, saying, "We had the right guys in the right spots against the right hitters."

Boston starter Curt Schilling struck out 14 batters and appeared headed to his 21st victory, but Miguel Tejada singled with one out and moved to second on a grounder. Javy Lopez drilled a 2-2 changeup onto Lansdowne Street and the Red Sox appeared headed to their fourth straight loss.

Rodrigo Lopez took a shutout into the eighth but was gone after walking the first two batters. Jason Grimsley walked David Ortiz intentionally with one out and first base open, and Millar lined a sacrifice fly to right fielder David Newhan.

"We battled to the end." Lopez said. "It was a good game. I don't think anybody is frustrated or disappointed."

Going into the game, Lopez was 3-0 with a 1.06 ERA against Boston this season, and 8-2 with a 3.93 ERA in 14 career appearances.

He looked vulnerable to the Red Sox in the first inning, an unusual sight given his past dominance over them. He gave up a single and walked two batters, and catcher Javy Lopez met with him between the mound and home plate.

Tejada probably kept the Red Sox from scoring with a leaping catch of Bellhorn's line drive and quick throw to first base to double up Johnny Damon. The next two batters reached before Trot Nixon grounded out.

Nixon reached third base with two outs in the fourth inning, the only player from either team to venture that far at that point. Lopez got two strikes on Doug Mientkiewicz and induced a ground ball, again quieting a sellout crowd that fears a September swoon could deprive them of postseason glory, no matter the wild card standings.

It was Schilling's turn to wiggle out of trouble in the second inning. B.J. Surhoff singled with one out and Javy Lopez reached on an error, but Schilling struck out the next two batters.

Surhoff was the only Oriole to get the ball out of the infield until Luis Lopez, pressed into duty as the designated hitter, ended the fifth by flying to right. Newhan's line drive was caught by Reese in the first, so he also could brag about a quality at- bat. The smallest accomplishments stood out.

The Orioles' lineup was missing Rafael Palmeiro because of a strained right hamstring. As if the team could afford to be without one of its hottest hitters on such a night.

If Lopez was the last pitcher the Red Sox wanted to see, Schilling seemed to be a timely choice. He was 10-3 after a Boston loss, and there were three in a row stacked before last night.

The Red Sox had allowed nine runs or more in each game of the streak. Teams have scored more than four against Schilling only four times this season - twice since June 16.

The former Oriole hasn't lost since Aug. 9, rattling off seven consecutive victories, and as the majors" first 20-game winner, he is in the running for the Cy Young Award. But he might have to settle for being a runner- up to Minnesota Twins left- hander Johan Santana, who is unbeaten in the second half and leading most pitching categories in the American League.

Santana has manhandled the Orioles twice in the past three weeks, but Schilling was just as brutal.

Eight Orioles went down on strikes through four innings. Schilling retired nine in a row before walking Jay Gibbons in the fifth. He responded, in typical fashion, by striking out Larry Bigbie for the second time.

Schilling became the sixth pitcher in history to strike out 10 or more batters in 90 games.

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