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Johnny on the spot

Improbable comeback gives Red Sox split with Angels

Posted: Monday August 26, 2002 11:30 PM
Updated: Tuesday August 27, 2002 4:17 AM
  Johnny Damon Johnny Damon gets a hero's welcome at home plate after his game-winning home run. AP

BOSTON (AP) -- No one's calling the Boston Red Sox listless now.

Johnny Damon hit a 320-foot homer to lead off the 10th inning and cap a stunning rally as the Boston Red Sox came back from a four-run, ninth-inning deficit Monday night to beat the Anaheim Angels 10-9.

Anaheim scored four times in the eighth to take a 9-5 lead. But the Red Sox sent it into extra innings with four runs in the ninth to hand Troy Percival his fourth blown save in 35 opportunities.

Thanks to Percival, Anaheim had been 129-1 when leading after eight innings over the past two seasons. Meanwhile, the Red Sox have fallen seven games behind the Yankees in the division, dropped to third in the wild card race and shown uninspired play as they head into the most important part of the season.

"We're hopeful this is the one that gets us going," said Tony Clark, who drew a bases-loaded walk off Percival -- his first RBI in a month -- to start the ninth-inning scoring.

Don't bury them yet

CNNSI.com's John Donovan

BOSTON -- There were a half-dozen times Monday night when the Red Sox's 2002 obit was all but written.

And then it happened.

When the story of Boston's season finally is written, Monday's incredible comeback against Anaheim will become either just another footnote in the team's history of frustration or the game that sparked the Red Sox into the playoffs.

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Manny Ramirez went 5-for-5 with two homers, and Ugueth Urbina (1-6) pitched the 10th for the win. Scot Shields (3-3) started the 10th and gave up Damon's looping liner down the right-field line that just cleared the fence running out from Pesky's Pole.

It landed just out of the reach of Orlando Palmeiro, who made a great catch against the wall early in the game.

"We were saying 'Let's go. We can do this,'" Ramirez said. "The fans were really into the game. It was awesome. It was incredible."

The victory gave the Red Sox a split in the series and dropped Anaheim a half-game behind Seattle in the AL wild-card race. Boston is three games back.

The Red Sox are four games under .500 since opening the season 40-17, falling from first place in the AL East to a would-be playoff also-ran. They are 12-20 in one-run games -- just 1-8 in close games in their previous nine.

"There's been a lot of disappointment here this year," Damon said. "It was nice to take care of the fans that were still there. A lot of them had gone home after the eighth inning, thinking we were going to have another tough loss."

The Red Sox made four errors and gave up a run-scoring wild pitch, and Anaheim seemed to finish them off when Brad Fullmer and Troy Glaus hit back-to-back doubles in the eighth to make it 9-5.

But Ramirez and Cliff Floyd singled off Al Levine to lead off the ninth, then Shea Hillenbrand singled off Percival to load the bases. Clark walked to make it 9-6, and one out later Trot Nixon hit a sacrifice fly to cut the deficit to two runs.

Rey Sanchez followed with a single to tie the game. He was thrown out trying to stretch it into a double.

"I think they probably assumed, and they were right, that I was going to come right after them and make them beat me," Percival said.

Bobby Howry started the eighth with the game tied at 5 but soon ran into trouble.

 
Red Sox claim Agbayani
BOSTON -- The Boston Red Sox claimed outfielder Benny Agbayani off waivers from the Colorado Rockies on Monday.

In parts of five major league seasons, Agbayani has a .273 career average with 57 doubles, 39 home runs and 148 RBIs.

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Adam Kennedy doubled and David Eckstein singled before Darin Erstad struck out. Palmeiro hit a sacrifice fly to make it 6-5, and right fielder Trot Nixon dropped the ball as he was trying to make the throw to allow Eckstein to go to second.

Garret Anderson was intentionally walked, then Fullmer doubled in one run and Glaus doubled in two to make it 9-5. Glaus had three of Anaheim's 16 hits and walked twice.

Ramirez hit solo homers in the first and third innings to give him 301 for his career. He followed Nomar Garciaparra's RBI single in the fifth with a base hit to left -- Boston's fourth consecutive single -- but Damon was thrown out at the plate on the play.

Ramirez added a two-run single in the seventh to save John Burkett from losing his fifth consecutive start for the first time in his 12-year career. Burkett gave up three earned runs and 11 hits. He has allowed 24 earned runs in his last 25 innings.

Ramon Ortiz allowed four runs and eight hits, but three of them were infield singles and one was a chopper that went over the first baseman's head. He struck out two and walked one in 6 1/3 innings.

Notes: Palmeiro made a great catch on Hillenbrand's popup in the fourth inning. Palmeiro crashed against the wall in right field and appeared to injure his ribs, but he stayed in the game. Umpire Mark Hirschbeck rode back to third base on the medical cart, drawing boos. ... On Wednesday, the Red Sox will honor the team from Worcester that was U.S. runner-up in the Little League World Series. ... Floyd made a lunging catch to start a double play in the first inning. ... The Red Sox claimed Benny Agbayani off waivers from Colorado. ... Ortiz has won just once in his last seven starts. ... Everybody in the Anaheim lineup had at least one hit.

 
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