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Bedard spoils Wakefield's return; O's blank Red Sox

BALTIMORE (AP) -- The Baltimore Orioles apparently have stumbled
upon the formula for beating the Boston Red Sox: send Erik Bedard
to the mound against knuckleballer Tim Wakefield.

Bedard pitched seven innings of two-hit ball, and the Orioles
spoiled Wakefield's return with a 4-0 victory Wednesday night.

Kevin Millar homered and Miguel Tejada had three hits for the
Orioles, who improved to 2-12 against Boston this season. Bedard
was the winning pitcher in Baltimore's other victory over the Red
Sox, on May 17 against Wakefield.

"We had Erik Bedard win both games, so maybe he can pitch the
rest of the year for us against the Red Sox," Millar said. "Seems
like he's the only one that has their number right now."

Bedard (14-9) permitted only four baserunners. He allowed
second-inning singles to Wily Mo Pena and Gabe Kapler, and walked
Pena in the fourth and Alex Gonzalez in the sixth. The left-hander
struck out five, including Kevin Youkilis three times.

"I'm proud of what I did," said Bedard, in typical low-key
fashion. "I just don't show it."

Todd Williams gave up a walk in the eighth inning and Chris Ray
got three straight outs to complete the two-hitter.

Making his first appearance since July 17, Wakefield (7-9)
yielded four runs on 10 hits in five innings. He was activated from
the disabled list before the game after being sidelined nearly two
months with a stress fracture in his rib cage.

"This was the first time in my career I had been hurt this long
a period of time and rehab took longer than was expected," he
said. "I am very thankful to be back rather than taking the rest
of season off. ... I felt better than I thought I would feel. I
wish the outcome was better."

The right-hander retired the side in order in the first inning,
but struggled the rest of the way before being lifted after
throwing 78 pitches.

"I actually thought he pitched pretty good considering how long
he has been out," Boston manager Terry Francona said. "He said he
could go further, which I agreed. I didn't think it was the prudent
thing to do."

The Red Sox have lost six of seven on the road and 11 of 17
overall.

Boston's lone scoring threat came in the second inning, when
singles by Pena and Kapler put runners at the corners with one out.
Bedard then struck out Doug Mirabelli and retired Dustin Pedroia on
a liner to short.

The rest was easy for Bedard, who never before won more than six
games in a season and started the year with a 12-18 lifetime
record.

"I'm more mature and more consistent with the strike zone," he
said. "Before, if I got behind, I was afraid to go after it. I was
nitpicking too much. Now I just throw it and let them hit it."

The Orioles took advantage of a rare lapse by the Boston defense
to take a 2-0 lead in the bottom half. Singles by Tejada and Ramon
Hernandez put runners on first and second for Millar, who hit into
a force play. But the relay from Gonzalez skipped past first base,
allowing Tejada to score.

Millar eventually reached third and scored after Mirabelli's
attempted pickoff from behind the plate hit the runner and bounced
into the outfield. The Red Sox came in with 57 errors, 12 fewer
than any other team, and had played a club-record 98 errorless
games this season.

Baltimore had runners to first and third with two outs in the
third when Wakefield retired Millar on a popup. In the fourth,
Wakefield got rookie Nick Markakis to hit into a fielder's choice
with the bases loaded and two outs.

Millar hit his 13th homer in the fifth with a man on for a 4-0
lead. The drive came on an 0-2 pitch.

"I don't like giving up home runs on 0-2," Wakefield said.

Said Millar: "It was a pitch he probably wanted to throw for
more of a ball, but it stayed over the plate. I got lucky on that
one."

In the sixth, Gonzalez reached second with two outs before David
Ortiz hit a twisting opposite-field liner to left that a diving
Jeff Fiorentino caught near the foul line.

Game notes
Boston OF Manny Ramirez missed a third straight game with a
sore right knee. ... Bedard has won two straight starts after going
0-3 over a seven-game stretch. ... Tejada is 21-for-63 (.333) with
five homers lifetime against Wakefield. ... The Red Sox have won
eight straight series at Camden Yards, a streak that will end if
the Orioles win Thursday night.