Red Sox remain 4.5 games back in the East

BOSTON (AP) -- Boston's strong rotation is struggling at the
wrong time and hurting the team's slim chance of winning the AL
East title.

Tim Wakefield became the third straight Red Sox starter to fail
in a big game Monday night when the Baltimore Orioles won 9-6.
Boston stayed 4 games behind the division-leading New York
Yankees, who lost 6-3 to Toronto.

The loss followed setbacks of 11-1 and 14-4 in New York the
previous two days.

"Starting this series, I know how important it was for me,"
Wakefield said. "I'm disappointed that I let us down, very

Boston's wild-card lead over Anaheim was cut to 4 games when
the Angels beat Seattle 5-2.

Wakefield, 0-3 in his last four starts, got six of the first 10
outs on strikeouts, then lost his control and gave up five runs in
the fourth. Four scored on B.J. Surhoff's grand slam, and three
more came in during the fifth, when Baltimore made it 8-2.

"He looked so crisp, so confident," Boston manager Terry
Francona said. "It got away very quickly."

Surhoff saw the difference in the fourth.

"Even the first pitch he threw me for a strike wasn't one of
his good ones," Surhoff said.

Against the Yankees, Derek Lowe allowed five runs in the first
on Saturday, and Pedro Martinez allowed eight runs in five-plus
innings Sunday. Boston's top five starters are still 70-44.

This just wasn't Wakefield's night. The Red Sox even allowed a
run in the fifth when Melvin Mora, thinking the bases were loaded,
trotted toward the plate when Rafael Palmeiro walked with runners
at second and third.

After a long rundown, Mora scored when first baseman Kevin
Millar, covering home, dropped Doug Mirabelli's low throw for an

"I'm mad at myself. I need to concentrate a little more," Mora

He did in the ninth when his 26th homer of the season gave
Baltimore a 9-6 lead. Jorge Julio retired the Red Sox in order for
his 22nd save in 25 opportunities.

The Red Sox stranded runners in scoring position in five of the
last seven innings and fell to 4-8 against Baltimore.

"Luck? I don't know," Orioles manager Lee Mazzilli said of the
dominance over a team Baltimore trails by 18 games.

The Red Sox have their first three-game losing streak since
dropping four straight from June 29 to July 2.

Jason Grimsley (5-6) got the win after starter Matt Riley was
replaced with two outs in the fifth and runners at second and
third. Todd Williams replaced Riley, but pitched poorly and
Grimsley was given the win by the official scorer.

"I understand," Riley said of being removed one out short of
qualifying for a win that would have snapped his nine-start winless
streak. "He's the manager and he's got to do what's going to help
this team win."

Williams retired the next batter.

Baltimore took a 5-0 lead in the fourth, loading the bases when
Mora was hit by a pitch, Miguel Tejada singled and Palmeiro walked.

Javy Lopez walked, forcing in the game's first run, then Surhoff
connected for the sixth grand slam of his career and sixth homer of
the season.

Boston cut the deficit to 5-2 in the fourth on David Ortiz's
39th homer after Manny Ramirez reached on an error. The Orioles
made it 8-2 in a wild fifth in which Wakefield (11-10) walked two
before leaving with one out.

Brian Roberts hit a leadoff single, Mora walked and they pulled
off a double steal. Tejada was walked intentionally, loading the
bases. A passed ball by Mirabelli brought in Roberts and put
runners at second and third.

Palmeiro walked, and Mora started trotting in from third.
Mirabelli threw to third and, after several throws, he was at third
and threw to Kevin Millar, who dropped the ball.

"Too many throws," shortstop Pokey Reese said. "You want two
or three at the most. He did a good job staying in the rundown."

Lopez then singled in Tejada, making it 8-2.

The Red Sox closed to 8-4 in the fifth on Ramirez's bases-loaded
double that ended an 0-for-14 slump. They added two runs in the
sixth on Johnny Damon's single and Mark Bellhorn's groundout but
stranded two runners for the second straight inning.

"We've just had a bad stretch in New York and against this team
that plays us tough," Damon said. "We're fine. Everybody likes to
get down on us. We know we'll be playoff bound."

Game notes
Boston SS Orlando Cabrera missed the game to be in
Colombia, where his wife was scheduled to undergo surgery. He was
expected back Wednesday for the third game of the four-game series.
... Wakefield matched season highs by allowing eight runs and five
walks and striking out seven.