Sox survive on HR in 12th

Ortiz's shot ends marathon, 6-4, cuts Yankees' lead to 3-1

At 5:02, it's longest ALCS game ever

Red Sox tie up Rivera in 9th after N.Y. small-ball rally

October 18, 2004|By Joe Christensen | Joe Christensen,SUN STAFF

BOSTON - It was a game that rivaled last year's epic clincher, from the daring moves of the Boston Red Sox manager, to the extra-inning dramatics of another unexpected hero.

This time it was Terry Francona, not Grady Little, making the decisions in the Boston dugout. This time it was Mariano Rivera, not Pedro Martinez, who faltered on the mound with the chance to put his team in the World Series.

And this time, it was the Red Sox, not the New York Yankees, celebrating wildly on their home field.

David Ortiz hit a two-run homer in the 12th inning last night off Yankees reliever Paul Quantrill, giving Boston a 6-4 win in Game 4 of the American League Championship Series to stave off elimination before 34,826 at Fenway Park.

One year and one day after Aaron Boone hit his 11th-inning home run off Tim Wakefield in Game 7 of the ALCS, the Red Sox kept this dream alive, rallying to tie the score after being down to their final three outs against the incomparable Rivera.

Bill Mueller hit the RBI single off Rivera that tied the game in the ninth, sending the game into extra innings.

"Having a one-run lead in the ninth inning, it certainly is disappointing," said Yankees manager Joe Torre, whose team was that close to its 40th American League pennant. "We're so used to Mo [Rivera] going out there and getting people out."

New York still leads the best-of-seven series, 3-1, with Boston's Martinez set to oppose Mike Mussina today in Game 5.

Red Sox manager Terry Francona said Curt Schilling will pitch Game 6, if Boston can get there. Schilling had another encouraging bullpen session yesterday.

No major league team has ever erased a 3-0 deficit to win a best-of-seven series, but the Red Sox moved one step closer, winning the longest game in ALCS history, at 5 hours, 2 minutes. It ended at 1:22 a.m.

Ortiz, who had a two-run single off Yankees starter Orlando Hernandez in the fifth inning, finished with four RBIs. He also hit the walk-off home run that eliminated the Anaheim Angels in Game 3 of the AL Division Series.

But this one was bigger.

"If we don't win that game, we'd be packing right now," Ortiz said.

Twenty of the previous 25 times when one team has grabbed a 3-0 series lead, it has ended in a sweep.

"We set out today to win. That was our only objective, and somehow we did," Francona said. "Now our objective is to win [today]. And that's all we have in front of us. I think if we did it differently [last night], we might not have made it."

Down 4-3 heading into the ninth, the Red Sox got a leadoff walk from Kevin Millar. Dave Roberts entered as a pinch runner and stole second base before Mueller tied it with his single up the middle.

Boston came very close to winning it that inning.

Mueller advanced to second on a sacrifice bunt by pinch hitter Doug Mientkiewicz, and then Yankees first baseman Tony Clark bobbled a bouncer from Johnny Damon for an error, enabling Mueller to reach third.

But Rivera, who entered the game in the eighth inning needing six outs for the save, buckled down. He struck out Orlando Cabrera for a huge second out, and after a walk to Manny Ramirez, Rivera got Ortiz to pop out to second base, ending the inning.

The Red Sox made that rally after some daring pitching moves by Francona. He pulled starting pitcher Derek Lowe with a 3-2 lead in the sixth inning, and the Yankees immediately made Boston pay, scoring two runs against reliever Mike Timlin.

But down 4-3 in the seventh, Francona turned things over to closer Keith Foulke, and he held the Yankees scoreless for 2 2/3 innings, allowing Boston to come back.

Lowe, who had given up a two-run home run to Alex Rodriguez in the second inning, seemed none too happy when he handed the ball to Francona in the sixth. He had thrown 88 pitches in his first start of the postseason, but Hideki Matsui had just tripled over Damon's head in center field and Bernie Williams was coming to the plate.

The numbers supported Francona's decision. Coming into the game, Williams was a .351 hitter against Lowe and a .143 hitter against Timlin, who is still Boston's top setup man.

This time, Timlin did his initial job, getting Williams to hit a little bouncer to the left side of the infield. But the ball was perfectly placed. With Matsui streaking toward the plate, shortstop Cabrera tried to grab it barehanded, but couldn't do it.

The Yankees took the lead against Timlin that inning without hitting the ball out of the infield, getting a walk and two more infield hits by Ruben Sierra and Clark to push the other run across.

But the Red Sox rallied, extending their season for at least a day.

"We're playing against a team that is strong all the way around," Ortiz said. "Whenever you get the chance to go for it, you've got to try hard because you don't get many chances."

Quiz answer

Manny Ramirez.

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