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Red Sox Extend Season

Ortiz Delivers Winning Hit In 14th Inning

By Jorge Arangure Jr.
Washington Post Staff Writer
Tuesday, October 19, 2004; Page D01

BOSTON, Oct. 18 -- With their season once again nearing an end, Boston turned to David Ortiz, their most passionate player, to help start the type of rally that has come to define the Red Sox. Ortiz's eighth-inning leadoff home run gave Boston a pulse. Ortiz's 14th-inning single against Esteban Loaiza kept Boston alive.

The Red Sox, with their second comeback in two days, are still playing in this American League Championship Series. Boston sent the series back to New York with a thrilling 5-4, 14-inning victory over the Yankees at Fenway Park in Game 5. The game lasted 5 hours 49 minutes, becoming the longest game in postseason history.

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The game turned absurd upon entering its fifth hour. Ortiz, who has just four stolen bases in his eight-year career, was caught stealing in the 12th inning to halt a rally. Loaiza, the last New York reliever, pitched 3 1/3 innings of spotless relief before Ortiz's single. The Yankees had so little regard for Loaiza, they only held him on their roster in case Orlando Hernandez was unable to pitch.

But Ortiz, who homered in the 12th inning of Game 4, was again the hero in Game 5. He fouled off eight two-strike pitches against Loaiza before his bloop single to center field scored Johnny Damon from second base. Damon had reached on a walk and went to second on a two-out walk to Manny Ramirez.

The Yankees tried to rally in the 13th inning when Gary Sheffield reached first base after striking out against Tim Wakefield. Jason Varitek, unfamiliar with catching Wakefield, could not handle the knuckleball on the third strike. The ball went to the backstop. It was one of three passed balls in the inning. The Yankees did not score in the inning because Ruben Sierra struck out with men on second and third. The two teams combined to use 14 pitchers in the game.

The National League Championship Series game between the Houston Astros and St. Louis Cardinals, which started almost at 9 p.m., was in the eighth inning when Damon crossed home plate with the winning run.

New York stranded 17 runners on base on Monday and were 1 for 13 with runners in scoring position. The middle of the lineup, which entered the game hitting .458 (33 of 72) against Boston pitching, had just one hit. Alex Rodriguez had an opportunity to extend New York's lead to three runs in the eighth, but instead struck out with a man on third base and one out.

Boston tied the game in the eighth against a pair of relievers, including Mariano Rivera, who blew his second save in as many nights when Varitek hit a sacrifice fly to center. Ortiz started the inning with an opposite-field homer to left.

Since the beginning of last year, Rivera has 89 saves in 96 chances against every other team but the Red Sox. Against Boston, Rivera has blown six saves in 15 chances, including one in Sunday's 12th-inning loss.

The Yankees had rallied in the ninth inning against Boston closer Keith Foulke. With two outs, Sierra drew a walk. Tony Clark followed with a double to right field. Boston received a fortunate bounce when the ball hopped into the crowd. If the ball had not bounced into the crowd, Sierra would certainly have scored to give the Yankees a one-run lead. Instead, Miguel Cairo popped out to first base to end the inning. In the past two days, Foulke has thrown four innings of scoreless relief.

A sixth game in this series is a frightening development for the Yankees. With Curt Schilling starting against the Yankees' Jon Lieber, it is hardly absurd to think Boston has the advantage down 3-2 in the series. A win by Schilling would send this series to a seventh game.

Boston starter Pedro Martinez, away from the howls of Yankee Stadium, was allowed to simply pitch to keep the Red Sox in contention without "daddy" chants that sent him back in time to afternoons spent under mango trees. It was the Yankees' lineup that was a bigger distraction than Yankees' fans.

It appeared the Yankees were intent on making Martinez throw a large number of pitches. It is well known that at age 32 Martinez tires almost immediately after reaching 100 pitches. Batters have a .391 on-base percentage against Martinez in the playoffs once he reaches that magic 100-pitch mark.

But in the first, Martinez swept through the top of the New York lineup, throwing just 12 pitches. Bernie Williams's solo home run in the second had been the only run against Martinez heading into the sixth inning when his pitch count stood at a safe 82 pitches. In the fifth Martinez had shown a hint of his old venom by throwing a pitch near the head of Hideki Matsui, who had pounded Red Sox pitching in this series. Matsui fell quickly to the ground. He lined out to first base to end the inning.

Martinez retired the first batter in the sixth but allowed singles to Jorge Posada and Ruben Sierra. Martinez struck out Clark for the second out of the inning, then hit Cairo in the shoulder with his 96th pitch of the game to load the bases for Derek Jeter. After two pitches, the count was 1-1. On his 99th pitch, Martinez blazed a 90 mph fastball past Jeter. But on the 100th pitch by Martinez, Jeter lined a double down the first base line that cleared the bases and gave New York a 4-2 lead.

Boston was intent of changing its fortunes against Mike Mussina, who in Game 1 threw 6 1/3 perfect innings. The Red Sox quickly made Mussina work, scoring runs on a hit by Ortiz and a walk by Varitek. In gaining a 2-0 lead, Boston made Mussina throw 34 pitches in the first. It was an amount that made it likely Mussina would not last deep into the game. Mussina settled nicely into the game though he allowed a double to start the seventh. Torre immediately came out from the dugout and brought in Tanyon Sturtze, from Worcester, Mass., the lifelong Red Sox fan who found himself on the other side of this rivalry. Sturtze and Tom Gordon helped end the Boston rally in the seventh.

© 2004 The Washington Post Company