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Batista sets team homer mark for third baseman

9/15/2002

BOSTON (AP) -- The Boston Red Sox have little chance left of
making the playoffs, and their fans know it.

Tony Batista set a Baltimore record for homers by a third
baseman, and Luis Lopez added a two-run shot as the Orioles beat
Boston 8-3 Sunday.

When the first pitch was thrown, many of the TVs at the
concession stands were tuned to the New England Patriots-New York
Jets football game. The announced attendance at Fenway Park was
31,007, but there were plenty of no-shows.

"It's slim from what I've seen," Boston's Cliff Floyd said of
his team's hopes. "A team that's been struggling came in here and
beat us. It's disheartening because we know how good we are."

After the Red Sox fell behind in the third inning on Batista's
homer into the screen above the Green Monster, most of the biggest
cheers came when the Patriots' score was flashed on the
center-field scoreboard.

The Orioles, losers of 18 of 19 coming into the weekend, took
two of three from the Red Sox, pushing them closer to elimination
from postseason play.

"As long as we've got a pulse, I'm maintaining hope," Red Sox
manager Grady Little said. "But after a day when you lose a game
it kind of grows thinner and thinner."

Batista's two-run homer in the third inning was his 29th as a
third baseman this season, eclipsing Hall of Famer Brooks
Robinson's record of 28 set in 1964.

Boston, which has 14 games left, is 9½ games behind the AL
East-leading New York Yankees, who have a magic number of five. The
Red Sox began the day 8½ back of the wild-card leaders.

Jason Johnson (5-13) won for only the second time in his last
nine decisions, allowing three runs and eight hits in 6 1/3
innings. He gave up two runs in the first, then shut the Red Sox
down until allowing a run in the seventh.

"They were hitting the curveball in the first inning and I
caught on that that was what they were looking for," Johnson said.
"So for the rest of the game I pretty much pounded them with
fastballs."

The Orioles erased a 2-0 deficit with four runs in the third.
Jerry Hairston and Chris Richard had RBI singles before Batista hit
his two-run homer. It was his 30th of the year, one coming as a DH,
after getting released by Toronto last season.

"It almost feels like '99 and 2000 when I hit 31 home runs and
41," Batista said. "I'm seeing the ball pretty good."

Baltimore chased John Burkett (11-8) with a pair of runs in the
fourth. Lopez hooked a drive around the right-field foul pole for
his second homer of the season after Jeff Conine doubled.

Consecutive RBI doubles by Geronimo Gil and Lopez made it 8-3 in
the ninth.

Manny Ramirez, who went 2-for-4, had an RBI double in the
seventh to chase Johnson and cut it to 6-3.

Cliff Floyd and Brian Daubach hit RBI singles to give Boston a 2-0 lead in the first.

Burkett lasted only 3 2/3 innings, giving up six runs and seven
hits.
"I don't know how many games we have left," Burkett said.
"Until you're mathematically eliminated, I think you have to
believe you can do it."

Game notes
Boston RHP Derek Lowe began serving his five-game
suspension, and second baseman Rey Sanchez started his two-gamer.
Both stemmed from a bench-clearing brawl with the Orioles on July
28. ... Burkett fell to 1-7 in his career against Baltimore. ...
Johnson had been just 1-5 since coming off the disabled list Aug.
9. ... Lopez drove in three runs. He had only six RBIs in his
previous 38 games.