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Updated: Saturday, May 21, 2005 2:00 AM EDT



  R H E  
Braves 3 6 0 WP: Miller (1-0)
LP: Hudson (4-3)
S: Foulke (11)  
Red Sox 4 8 0
Miller, Varitek lead Red Sox to victory over Braves

BOSTON (Ticker) -- Wade Miller shared the lead on a day typically reserved for heroics by Jason Varitek .

Miller allowed just three hits in 6 1/3 innings and Varitek homered on May 20 for the fifth straight year as the Red Sox won the opener of their weekend interleague series with the Atlanta Braves , 4-3.

Making his third start for the Red Sox , Miller (1-0) did not allow a hit until the fifth inning and threw 67 of his 105 pitches for strikes en route to his first win since June 20. Miller, who missed the first five weeks of the season while recovering from shoulder tendinitis, allowed an earned run, walked two and struck out five.

"This was probably the worst I felt going out there out of the three," Miller said. "I didn't have the feel for it today. I was able to move the ball around a little bit, but just didn't feel as good as the other two."

With one out in the second inning, Varitek gave Boston a 2-0 lead with a solo shot to left-center field against Tim Hudson . Included in Varitek's homer binge on May 20 was a three-homer, seven-RBI performance against Kansas City in 2001.

"That's weird, very weird," Varitek said of his annual power surge. "Just circumstantial I guess."

Two batters after Varitek's ninth homer of the season, Bill Mueller hit a two-run blast off the foul pole in right field for his first homer since September 26. It was the first home run by a Red Sox third baseman this season.

"They took advantage of a few pitches that I got up in the zone and that was pretty much the ballgame," Hudson said. "Mueller hit a pretty good pitch. I don't know how he kept it fair. That was pretty much the game right there. It might have been a ball (inside). The Varitek homer was a 3-1 pitch over the plate."

The Red Sox , who were coming off a 2-4 West Coast road trip, improved to 12-5 at Fenway Park this season.

"Our effort's been there, we just haven't had the results on the road," Varitek said. "We got a big hit out of Bill Mueller today and that was huge."

Miller struck out Andruw Jones leading off the seventh inning before Johnny Estrada doubled to right field. Red Sox manager Terry Francona went to Mike Timlin and Miller left to a standing ovation from the capacity crowd.

"It feels good," Miller said. "A lot of the hard work paid off coming into the season. I couldn't be happier."

"He did an excellent job," Varitek said of Miller. "He was the key to the game. He gave the offense a chance to score runs with a quality start. He mixed in all his pitches and threw more changeups, threw his cutter with a few more sliders. He didn't have as great of velocity (on his pitches) but he pitched."

Timlin struck out Julio Franco looking before getting Brian Jordan to ground out to third to end the seventh-inning threat. Timlin completed a scoreless eighth with a strikeout of Marcus Giles , who was ejected moments later following a heated argument with first base umpire Andy Fletcher.

"We're struggling right now and it was a little frustration," Giles said.

Keith Foulke allowed two runs in the top of the ninth inning but induced Franco to hit into a game-ending double play to record his 11th save in 13 chances.

Hudson (4-3) allowed four runs, eight hits and five walks in six innings and fell to 3-6 lifetime against the Red Sox .

"I didn't make great pitches tonight," Hudson said. "It's tough spotting the other team four runs in the first couple of innings. It puts us in a tough position. This is like any other ballpark. You try to not leave pitches out over the plate, but they're a team that seems built for this park."

The Braves, who had won 12 of their previous 15 games at Fenway Park, have lost four straight overall for the first time since April 13-16, 2002.

"We're not coming up with the big hits when we need them, but it's just a matter of time before we break out," Giles said. "And we could all break out together and maybe that will be (Saturday)."

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