BOSTON (AP) -- Any plans the Boston Red Sox had for a postgame
celebration were put on ice during a disastrous first inning
Needing a win to clinch their first playoff berth in four years,
the Red Sox trailed by seven runs before coming to bat and the
Baltimore Orioles went on to a 7-3 victory.
"We felt like we were going to have a party here tonight"
after Seattle's loss to Anaheim reduced Boston's magic number to
one, Johnny Damon said.
But the Orioles had fun as Tony Batista hit a grand slam and Pat
Hentgen pitched six strong innings to delay for at least a day
Boston's clinching of a wild-card berth.
"We want to play and play well and make them earn it if they're
going to clinch it," Baltimore manager Mike Hargrove said.
"Beyond that, we wanted to win the ballgame for ourselves."
Especially after Tuesday night's 6-5 loss in which Todd Walker's
three-run homer tied the game with two outs in the ninth and David
Ortiz's solo homer won it in the 10th.
"It's a clean slate the next day," Hargrove said.
Just as it was for the Red Sox.
"We don't have too much hangover, not in an emotional win and
loss," Boston manager Grady Little said. "We just got off on the
wrong foot there and it didn't get any better."
Boston clinched at least a tie for the AL wild card earlier in
the day when Seattle lost 4-0 at Anaheim. For the Red Sox to miss
the playoffs, they would have to lose their final four games, and
Seattle would have to sweep a three-game series against Oakland,
then beat Boston in a tiebreaker playoff.
"It's exciting when it's in front of you," Boston catcher
Jason Varitek said. "We have to concentrate on what we have to do
and that wasn't the case today."
Ortiz continued his slugging with two homers, giving him three
homers in 10 pitches and 31 for the season.
"I was definitely trying to throw more strikes and be more
aggressive with my fastball" with a big lead, Hentgen said.
Baltimore pounced on John Burkett (11-9) for seven hits and
seven runs -- six of them earned. He left after retiring just one
batter, the shortest start of his 14 major league seasons.
Burkett said he wasn't too excited, knowing Boston could clinch
the wild card.
"I just threw a lot of pitches over the middle of the plate,"
he said. "I just made a lot of mistakes and didn't get away with
any of them."
Batista hit the first pitch into the left-field seats for his
second grand slam of the season and seventh of his career.
"I was looking for the pitch right there," Batista said, "a
fastball right there."
That's where Burkett put it, high and over the middle of the
Doubles by B.J. Surhoff and Jack Cust made it 5-0, and Cust took
third on Deivi Cruz's single. Brandon Lyon relieved, and Brook
Fordyce hit into a forceout at second, but second baseman Walker's
throw to first went into a dugout as Cust scored. Hairston singled
in Fordyce for a seven-run lead.
Lyon gave up five hits in 2 2-3 scoreless innings before Bronson
Arroyo pitched four perfect innings.
Bill Mueller broke an 0-for-13 slide with his single in the
seventh. He went 1-for-4, dropping his AL-leading batting average
to .324. Boston's Manny Ramirez and Chicago's Magglio Ordonez are
at .323. ... Nomar Garciaparra is in a 1-for-18 slump that dropped
his batting average to .302. ... In Hentgen's previous game against
Boston, he allowed one run and four hits in eight innings of a 2-1
Baltimore victory. .. Singles by Walker in the eighth and Varitek
in the ninth gave Boston a major league record 2,750 total bases.
The previous record of 2,748 was set by Colorado in 2001. ... Every
Orioles starter had at least one hit. ... Ortiz's two RBI gave him
100 for the season, joining Ramirez and Garciaparra with at least
100. The last time the Red Sox had three players with 100 or more
RBI was 1984 (Tony Armas, Dwight Evans and Jim Rice). ... Ortiz
became the seventh player in Red Sox history with six or more
multihomer games in a season. Jimmie Foxx set the club record of 10