Sox survive on HR in 12th

Ortiz connects to win it, 6-4, cutting Yankees' lead to 3-1

Red Sox tie game off Rivera in ninth

Small-ball rally, big A-Rod HR propelled Yankees into lead

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, giving Boston a 6-4 win in Game 4 of the American League Championship Series 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 their dream alive.

New York still leads the best-seven-seven series, 3-1, with Boston's Martinez set to oppose Mike Mussina today in Game 5. The Red Sox also could have Curt Schilling available for Game 6 after he 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 five hours, two minutes.

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

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

Boston came very close to winning it that inning.

Mueller advance 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, allowing Mueller to reach third.

But Rivera, who entered the game in the eighth inning needing six outs to put the Yankees in the World Series, buckled down, striking out Orlando Cabrera for a huge second out. After a walk to Manny Ramirez, Rivera got David Ortiz to pop out to second base, ending the inning.

The Red Sox made their rally after some daring pitching moves by their manager, Terry 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 1/3 innings, allowing Boston to come back.

Lowe seemed none too happy when he handed the ball to Francona. 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.

The numbers supported Francona's decision. Coming into the game, Bernie 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 Orlando Cabrera tried to grab it barehanded, but couldn't do it.

Williams had a single, and Matsui scored the tying run.

In some respects, it was a tough-luck inning for Timlin. The Yankees never hit the ball out of the infield against him, and yet he made numerous mistakes.

Jorge Posada walked, putting runners at first and second, and then Timlin threw a ball in the dirt that bounced away from catcher Jason Varitek, who threw to third base in time to catch Williams for the second out.

It seemed like a huge out at the time, but Posada advanced to second, putting the go-ahead run in scoring position.

The Yankees kept killing the Red Sox softly.

Ruben Sierra followed with an infield single, with Red Sox second baseman Mark Bellhorn gloving the ball behind second base, as Posada ran to third.

Bellhorn was having a miserable series, going 1-for-14 with eight strikeouts and getting booed repeatedly by the Fenway crowd.

But things got worse when Tony Clark followed Sierra with a grounder to Bellhorn's left. Bellhorn made a nice diving play, knocking it down. He quickly got to his feet, and it looked like he had enough time to get the out, but when he reached for the ball, he didn't grab it.

Clark had another infield single, and Posada scored, as the Yankees regained the lead.

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