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Wells sharp after return from suspension

BOSTON (AP) -- David Wells had no trouble with the Baltimore
Orioles or the umpires.

In his first start since serving a six-game suspension, the
excitable Wells was solid and steady for the Red Sox, pitching his
first nine-inning complete game of the season in Boston's 5-1 win
Sunday.

"Right now, every win is clutch for us," Wells said. "I felt
good. My body felt good. Warming up was pretty good. I didn't feel
rusty at all."

Wells (12-6) was suspended for arguing with umpires on July 2,
but came back strong. He allowed seven hits, struck out four and
retired his last 12 batters. It was the seventh time in eight games
that he did not issue a walk.

During the suspension, Wells worked out at Fenway Park. He also
was called to a meeting Wednesday with baseball officials in New
York. Afterward he apologized for saying commissioner Bud Selig
dragged his feet on the steroid issue.

"I found out I was wrong," Wells said Sunday, but declined to
comment on Selig.

Wells had one other complete game this season, a 3-1 loss at
Baltimore that was shortened to six innings by rain.

"Regardless of how much (the suspension) bothered him or how he
felt about things, he really did a good job to get ready for his
start," Red Sox manager Terry Francona said.

Rodrigo Lopez (13-9) pitched better than Wells in the first four
innings, retiring his first 11 batters after he set down the last
14 batters in his previous start against Boston. He allowed one hit
through four, while Wells gave up five hits and put runners on base
in each inning.

Lopez lost his touch quickly in the fifth when the first six
batters reached safely, leading to five runs -- three on John
Olerud's sixth homer. AL East-leading Boston went on to its seventh
win in eight games.

"They're hot and when you're hot everything works for you,"
Lopez said. "They're comfortable and they're doing what they need
to do to get ready for the playoffs."

Wells retired the side in order in the fifth before allowing a
run on consecutive doubles by Melvin Mora and Miguel Tejada in the
sixth. But those were the last baserunners for the Orioles, who had
trouble seeing the ball as shadows crept over the field late in the
game.

"As you get older it gets tougher and tougher" to pitch a
complete game, the 42-year-old Wells said, "but it's pretty
gratifying. I'm pretty stoked right now."

Lopez entered with a 10-4 career record -- the most wins by any
pitcher against Boston since 2002 -- and a 3.54 ERA against the Red
Sox.

Lopez breezed through the first 11 batters with two strikeouts,
but Boston's first six batters in the fifth hit the ball hard.

Singles by Trot Nixon and Bill Mueller put runners at first and
third, and Olerud sent the first pitch from Lopez over the fence in
front of the right-field bullpens. It came three days after he had
two homers and six RBI in a win over Tampa Bay.

Doug Mirabelli then doubled, Tony Graffanino singled with a hard
shot that hit Lopez and Johnny Damon doubled both home.

Game notes
Graffanino returned to the lineup at 2B after missing four
games with a strained hamstring. ... The Orioles lost their second
straight game after winning three in a row and are 4-12 in their
last 16. ... Baltimore's Jay Gibbons went 2-for-3 and was 7-for-12
in the series. ... Boston scored fewer than seven runs for the
second time in its last 17 home games. ... 1B Kevin Millar was
benched in favor of Olerud after hitting his third homer in three
starts Saturday night. The lefty-hitting Olerud faced the
right-handed Lopez.