BOSTON (AP) -- Kevin Millar's power returned in time to make up for his shaky fielding.
The first baseman's two-run homer in the ninth inning gave the Boston Red Sox a 3-2 victory over Oakland on Tuesday night in a game in which his two errors led to the Athletics' runs."It was definitely the Kevin Millar show tonight. He was involved in every aspect of that ballgame," Red Sox manager Terry Francona said.Millar homered on a 2-2 fastball from Octavio Dotel (1-1) one night after hitting his first of the season to snap a career-long homer drought of 120 at-bats. Both came after the sixth inning, giving him 42 homers from the seventh inning on out of the 104 he's hit in the majors."I feel better at the plate, just aggressive swings," Millar said. "I'm not going to quit. I don't have a lot of ability but I give it all I've got."Until the Red Sox designated David McCarty for assignment on May 2, he regularly went in as a late-inning defensive replacement for Millar when Boston was leading. Since then, Millar has stayed in games.His homer came on a pitch over the plate after Millar had seenDotel throw mostly fastballs to the other two batters in the ninth -- Manny Ramirez, who struck out, and David Ortiz, who walked."He was throwing a lot of fastballs," Millar said. "I was like, 'Please, throw me a lot of fastballs.'"Dotel did and ended up blowing his third save in nine opportunities."I was trying to hit my spot away but I didn't do it," he said.The homer was the only hit off three Oakland relievers after Kirk Saarloos allowed one run and four hits in five innings. Three of the hits -- including a tying RBI single in the fifth -- were by Johnny Damon. He extended his hitting streak to 16 games and lifted his batting average to .387, tied with Detroit's Carlos Guillen for tops in the AL.The Athletics also turned four double plays, two against Ortiz, and left fielder Eric Byrnes made an excellent diving catch going toward the foul line to hold Boston to one run in the fifth."A lot of positives. We played a great game," Oakland manager Ken Macha said after his team's seventh loss in eight games. "We just didn't close it out."Matt Mantei (1-0) pitched a perfect ninth for the win as three pitchers held Oakland to three hits.Bronson Arroyo avoided his first loss since last Aug. 15. In his previous start, he pitched 6 1/3 hitless innings and allowed three hits in eight innings in a 2-1 win at Detroit. He allowed one hit in the first six innings Tuesday -- a single by Eric Chavez in the first -- and is unbeaten in his last 16 starts.But his questionable fielding decision nearly lost the game.He threw to first base in the seventh after fielding a grounder and looking at Bobby Kielty running toward home plate with the run that made it 2-1."I saw him start to turn [toward] first and I just took off," Kielty said. "It was a way [to try] and sneak a run and it worked out. But it doesn't matter because we lost."Arroyo realized he didn't have time to get a double play because Adam Melhuse's grounder was hit slowly."I was looking for a pause [by Kielty], take the out at first and play for the third out," he said. "Obviously, he took off as soon as I turned my head."Millar was charged with his second error for leaving first base early to try to get the runner at home.His first error led to Oakland's run in the first. Mark Kotsay
walked and took third on Chavez's single. Erubiel Durazo hit a hard grounder to Millar, whose throw home was low and to the right of catcher Jason Varitek as Kotsay scored.Boston tied it in the fifth on Damon's RBI single after a single by Edgar Renteria and a walk to Bill Mueller.
Ramirez started after leaving Monday night's 13-5 win in the first when he was beaned by Dan Haren's breaking ball. ... Oakland's loss was its first in games it led after eight innings.