August 9, 2003
The Orioles stunned the
Sox by stealing four of their last five games and forcing them into
the bottom of the eighth inning tonight amid a 3-3 deadlock before
Grady Little's mashers made some late magic. The trick involved
Damian Jackson dashing home with the go-ahead run on a wild pitch by
Travis Driskill before Kevin Millar launched the 10,000th home run in
the history of Fenway Park, a two-run shot over the Green Monster, to
help clinch a 6-4 victory before a relieved 34,883.
victory erased the bitter taste of the O's sweeping a doubleheader. And the Sox,
winning for the 17th time this season in their final at-bat, rode the triumph to
within three games of the American League East-leading Yankees, who lost, 2-1,
to Seattle earlier in the day.
Manny Ramirez, who launched his 100th career homer with the Sox to tie the score
in the sixth inning, igniting the winning rally by driving a 3-2 fastball from
Driskill for an opposite-field single to right open the inning. Jackson, running
for Ramirez, performed a similarly impressive feat by scrambling to third on
David Ortiz's single to left, putting Jackson in position to score when Driskill
fired an 82-mile-per- hour splitter in the dirt. Driskill's next pitch, an
81-m.p.h. splitter, sailed over the wall, courtesy of Millar.
Orioles recouped a run when Brook Fordyce took Byung Hyun Kim deep in the ninth
inning, before Kim overcame a late charge for his ninth save. But Wakefield was
the largely unheralded star of the game. The knuckleballer, in his longest
outing of the season, went 7 2/3 innings in dueling Baltimore's Damian Moss to a
3-3 standoff while the crowd waited in generally hushed anticipation for the
turning point. Wakefield scattered five hits, a walk, and a hit batsman for the
three runs before he left to a rousing ovation. Wakefield departed with two outs
and runners at first and second as the Orioles threatened to seize the lead. But
Embree, with his fastball hitting 96 miles per hour, got Jay Gibbons to ground
out to end the inning.
Wakefield's only lapse came in the fourth inning, after the Sox grabbed a 2-0
lead in the third inning on Bill Mueller's bases- loaded double. With one out,
Luis Matos crushed a knuckleball from Wakefield off the wall in center for a
standup triple, allowing Matos to score easily a pitch later when Gibbons
bounced a single up the middle. Tony Batista then lofted another knuckler from
Wakefield into the first row of the Monster seats for a two-run homer, and a 3-2
lead for the O's.
Wakefield's catcher, Doug Mirabelli, said the knuckleballer would be the last
player to complain about a lack of run support, which Wakefield has
demonstrated. After all, no one is perfect. In the end, the Sox took, thanks to
Wakefield keeping them in the game. Jeff Suppan will try to match Wakefield's
effort today to help salvage a split of the four-game series.