Posted: Saturday October 09, 1999 09:24 PM
BOSTON (Ticker) -- The Boston Red Sox are not dead yet. In fact, they showed plenty of life today, exploding for their biggest single postseason inning in 24 years.
John Valentin had a two-run double and Brian Daubach hit a three-run homer in a six-run seventh inning as the Red Sox staved off elimination with a 9-3 victory over the Cleveland Indians.
The Indians still hold a 2-1 lead in the best-of-five American League Division Series and will try to close out Boston on Sunday at Fenway Park.
The outlook appeared bleak for the Red Sox, who were trounced 11-1 in Game Two and played today without All-Star shortstop Nomar Garciaparra due to a sore right wrist. Garciaparra's status for Sunday is day-to-day.
"No one panics in here, even with Nomar out," Valentin said. "We've won all year with different guys coming through. It's hard to say if momentum has shifted. They're a really good team."
Helped by an effective outing from starter Ramon Martinez, the Red Sox responded with only the second win in their last 20 postseason games. Boston also snapped a seven-game postseason home losing streak, winning at Fenway Park for the first time since Game Five of the 1986 World Series.
The game provided a rollercoaster of fortunes for Valentin, who homered in the bottom of the sixth, made a costly error at third in the top of the seventh and put Boston ahead to stay with his double in the bottom half.
Boston scored all of its runs against Cleveland's bullpen, which was forced into early duty when Dave Burba left after four innings with tightness in his right forearm. He allowed just one hit and a walk.
"It's been a problem for the last two weeks," Burba admitted. "What was frustrating from me is I thought I let my team down. I just hate to leave the game early."
With younger brother Pedro sidelined with a strained back and unavailable until Monday, Ramon Martinez pitched 5 2/3 innings, allowing two runs and five hits.
Ramon Martinez, who made only four starts after returning from a long rehabilitation due to rotator cuff surgery, walked three and struck out six.
Derek Lowe (1-1) allowed one run in 2 1/3 innings for the win. Rod Beck pitched the ninth.
"I just had to hold them there and let our offense do what they did," Lowe said.
Jaret Wright (0-1), pitching in relief for the first time in his career, walked Lou Merloni -- Garciaparra's replacement at shortstop -- and hit Jason Varitek with a pitch to open the seventh. Ricky Rincon relieved and Darren Lewis bounced into a force play before Jose Offerman walked one out later to load the bases.
Valentin lined a double down the left-field line to put Boston ahead for good at 5-3 and Daubach followed with a homer to center field on a 1-1 pitch.
"He gave me a pitch belt high and I didn't miss it," Daubach said. "We've been a team all season long, not individuals, and tonight was just another example."
Rookie Sean DePaula relieved and allowed two hits, including an RBI single to Merloni, capping Boston's biggest postseason frame since scoring six times in the seventh inning of Game One of the 1975 World Series against Cincinnati.
Valentin homered off Wright in the sixth to give Boston a 3-2 lead. Minutes later, with runners on first and third and two outs in the seventh, Valentin short-hopped a throw to first on a grounder by Manny Ramirez, scoring Kenny Lofton.
Valentin also made a key error in Game One that preceded a two-run homer by Jim Thome.
Wright, at one time considered a potential ace of the Cleveland staff, allowed four runs and four hits in two innings.
"Jaret's the only guy we ever had with any length in the bullpen," Indians manager Mike Hargrove said. "All the rest of the guys out there are one- or two-inning guys. We were trying to get through six or seven. That's the reason I stayed with him as long as I did."
Cleveland scored first on a sacrifice fly by David Justice before the Red Sox jumped on Wright for two runs in the fifth.
Merloni singled with one out and went to third when Varitek doubled off the "Green Monster" in left field. Darren Lewis blooped a run-scoring single to right-center and Trot Nixon followed with a sacrifice fly for a 2-1 lead.
Ramon Martinez appeared to tire in the sixth when Roberto Alomar doubled and went to third on a groundout. Jim Thome walked and Harold Baines hit a potential double-play grounder to Mike Stanley. The first baseman threw to second for the force but the throw from Merloni was wild as Alomar scored.
Lowe relieved and retired Travis Fryman to end the inning.