Not Dead Sox
Boston scores six runs in seventh inning to avoid sweep
Posted: Sunday October 10, 1999 09:32 AM
Boston Red Sox starting pitcher Ramon Martinez tips his cap to a cheering crowd as he leaves the game in the sixth inning. AP
BOSTON (AP) -- In a series full of surprises, now this: The Boston Red Sox will play again.
They won Saturday for only the second time in 20 playoff games. They did it without an injured Nomar Garciaparra and with more bad news on Pedro Martinez's sprained back muscle.
They hit like Cleveland, baseball's highest scoring team since 1950, scoring six runs in the seventh inning to beat the Indians 9-3 in Game 3 and avoid a first-round sweep.
And those late runs were produced by two players who have struggled at the plate - John Valentin with a tiebreaking, two-run double, and Brian Daubach with a three-run homer. Garciaparra's replacement, Lou Merloni, who singled in the final run.
Perhaps the biggest surprise as the Red Sox cut the Indians' lead to 2-1 in the best-of-5 division series was the strong performance from Ramon Martinez, Pedro's older brother, who pitched his first major league game in nearly 15 months on Sept. 2.
And they did it against a team that was thinking sweep after its 11-1 domination of Boston in Game 2 at Jacobs Field.
So the Red Sox will play another game in Fenway Park on Sunday with the odds still stacked against them. Bartolo Colon, dominant in Cleveland's 3-2 Game 1 victory, faces Kent Mercker, who was 2-0 in just five starts after being acquired from St. Louis on Aug. 24.
The Red Sox ended their postseason futility streak at home, winning for the first time in eight games since a victory in Game 5 of the 1986 World Series. Their 1-18 stretch began in the next game when Bill Buckner's infamous error gave New York a comeback win two days before the Mets won the World Series.
That's something Boston hasn't done since 1918, Cleveland since 1948 when it beat another Boston team, the Braves.
The Red Sox chances got a boost from the hitting problems of four Indians. Kenny Lofton, Manny Ramirez, Dave Justice and Sandy Alomar were a combined 0-for-35 in the series until Lofton singled in the seventh off winning pitcher Derek Lowe and came around to score the run that tied it at 3.
Dave Burba had allowed one hit before leaving after four innings with tightness under his right forearm and a 1-0 lead. Jaret Wright, the losing pitcher, replaced him and the game began slipping away as he allowed two runs in the fifth and Valentin's go-ahead homer in the sixth.
He allowed the first two runners in the seventh to reach base - walking Merloni and hitting Jason Varitek. Ricardo Rincon then came in to pitch.
Darren Lewis' sacrifice bunt attempt turned into a forceout when Travis Fryman threw out Merloni at third. Trot Nixon then struck out.
But Jose Offerman walked, loading the bases. Then Valentin, 0-for-10 before his homer and whose throwing error allowed the tying run to score in the seventh, doubled.
Daubach, who tailed off sharply late in the season, then hit a three-run homer. The onslaught continued against Sean DePaula, who gave up a walk to Mike Stanley, a single to Troy O'Leary and an RBI single to Merloni.
It was the biggest offensive show of the series by the Red Sox, who totaled three runs and 11 hits in the first two games. And they did it without Garciaparra, who hit .357.
He missed the game with a bruised right wrist suffered two weeks earlier when he was hit by a pitch by Baltimore's Al Reyes. Garciaparra played the first two games, going 2-for-6 with a homer and a double.
But he sat out Friday's team workout then decided he couldn't play after taking some swings in the batting cage before Saturday's game.
Pedro Martinez's health check didn't go much better. Martinez had left the opener with a sprained muscle under his right shoulder blade after four innings.
He threw for the first time since then before Saturday's game but the exercise lasted about one minute when he felt discomfort. He planned to try again Sunday with hopes of starting in a possible fifth game Monday.
Ramon Martinez, who underwent rotator cuff surgery on his right shoulder on June 30, 1998, was 2-1 this season, finishing with two strong starts against Baltimore.
On Saturday, he allowed two runs on five hits and three walks while striking out six in 5 2-3 innings.
He gave up the tying run in the sixth when Roberto Alomar doubled, took third on Ramirez's groundout to first and scored on Harold Baines' grounder.
When he was replaced by Lowe, Martinez tipped his cap as the crowd gave him a standing ovation. His brother was the first to shake his hand in the dugout.
Cleveland took a 1-0 lead on Justice's sacrifice fly in the fourth. But Wright gave up a run-scoring single to Darren Lewis and a sacrifice fly in the fifth.
Wright was available because Cleveland manager Mike Hargrove decided he would start Bartolo Colon in a fourth game, if one was needed.
But Wright, 1-5 with a 5.97 ERA in the second half of the season, had trouble Saturday even when he got outs.
The first batter, O'Leary, hit a hard shot off Wright's shin that Fryman fielded, then threw the ball to first for the out.
But a single by Merloni and a double by Varitek put runners at second and third. That set up another confrontation between Wright and Lewis.
Wright hit Lewis in the helmet in last year's first game of the division series, then hit him with a curveball April 23 that prompted the usually mild-mannered Lewis to charge the mound.
With fans derisively chanting, 'Ja-ret, Ja-ret,' Lewis singled in Merloni.
Notes: Burba retired the first nine batters until Offerman started the fourth with a single. ... Boston had 11 hits after totaling that many in the first two games.
Copyright 2003 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.
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