BOSTON (AP) -- Mark Bellhorn's line drive headed for center
field, and his teammates were in hot pursuit.
Even before Dave Roberts and Bill Mueller scored to give Boston
a 3-2 victory over the Baltimore Orioles, the Red Sox were pouring
out of the dugout to celebrate Bellhorn's two-out single and the
end of a three-game losing streak that threatened to end Boston's
dwindling chances at an AL East title.
"It's not the time of year to lose four in a row," said
manager Terry Francona, whose Red Sox came within an out of doing
that after Javy Lopez hit a last-strike, two-run homer in the top
of the ninth to put the Orioles up 2-1.
Curt Schilling cruised through eight innings, striking out a
season-high 14 as he went for his major league-leading 21st
victory. But given a 1-0 lead on Kevin Millar's eighth-inning
sacrifice fly, Keith Foulke (4-3) gave up Lopez's two-run homer on
a 3-2 pitch with two outs in the ninth.
B.J. Ryan (3-6) walked Kevin Youkilis in the bottom half, and
Mueller doubled off the Green Monster for his career-high fourth
hit. Pinch-hitter David McCarty popped up foul of first base, then
Johnny Damon struck out looking.
Jorge Julio came on to face Bellhorn, who had already struck out
twice in the game and 161 times in the season -- one shy of the
franchise record. Bellhorn laced a pitch to deep center field, out
of the reach of Larry Bigbie.
"Up and down. Up and down. That's playoff, late September
baseball," Schilling said. "Find a way. And we did."
Boston, which opened a 5½-game lead over Anaheim in the AL
wild-card race, kept pace with the New York Yankees, who beat
Toronto 5-3 to preserve their 4½-game lead in the AL East. The Red
Sox and Yankees will play three times this weekend at Fenway Park.
Schilling pitched eight innings of three-hit ball, walking one
and allowing just two runners to reach second base; both times he
struck out the remaining batters in the inning. Rodrigo Lopez
nearly matched Schilling, allowing one run and five hits and
striking out seven in seven-plus innings.
But the game was still scoreless when the umpires came out to
check his cap in the bottom of the eighth, and he walked the first
two batters of the half-inning.
"I got tired and couldn't get the ball down. I wasn't worried
about the hat thing," Lopez said. "I didn't pay attention. I've
been pitching a long time and I know I don't need to bring anything
else to the mound. I have nothing to hide."
But Lopez walked Damon and Bellhorn, then Jason Grimsley came on
to face Manny Ramirez and got him to bounce the ball to the left
side. Third baseman Melvin Mora's only play was to first, allowing
the runners to advance.
David Ortiz was intentionally walked, then Ryan came on to face
Millar, who was pinch hitting, Millar lofted a short, looping fly
down the right field line; David Newhan caught it, spun and threw
to the plate, but it wasn't in time to get Damon.
Foulke came in for the save and allowed Miguel Tejada's one-out
single and then got ahead 0-2 in the count against Lopez, who then
worked it full. Lopez followed with a drive over the Green Monster
for his 20th homer.
The Red Sox had allowed nine or more runs in each of their
previous three games. But Schilling is 7-0 following a Boston loss
and he pitched well enough to win again.
It was his fourth game of the season with at least 10 strikeouts
and the 90th of his career -- sixth-most in major league history. He
threw 114 pitches, 90 for strikes.
Lopez entered with just 35 career wins, eight against Boston; he
was 3-0 with a 1.06 ERA against the Red Sox this year. He had won
three consecutive starts and hasn't lost since Aug. 18.
Bellhorn had two strikeouts to give him 161 for the season,
one shy of the franchise record set by Butch Hobson in 1977. ...
Orioles 1B Rafael Palmeiro is day to day with a right hamstring
strain. "Its a just a slight strain," said Palmeiro, who said he
injured it rounding second base in the fifth inning of Mondays win.
... Boston recalled RHP Byung-Hyun Kim from Triple-A. ... Red Sox
SS Orlando Cabrera is expected back in the lineup Wednesday after
being with his wife during surgery in Bogota, Colombia.