Shea Hillenbrand broke a ninth-inning tie with his fourth hit of the game as the Boston Red Sox withstood another collapse by their bullpen and beat the Tampa Bay Devil Rays, 6-5, last night at Fenway Park.
Boston took a 5-1 lead before Ramiro Mendoza gave it all back in the eighth without retiring a batter. But in the ninth, Boston loaded the bases with one out and Hillenbrand bounced a single up the middle to win it.
Mike Timlin (2-0) inherited a 5-3 lead and two base runners from Mendoza and gave up the tying, two-run single to pinch hitter Marlon Anderson. But Timlin retired five consecutive batters after that to prevent further damage and earn the win.
"You can't just pinpoint the Red Sox, or the Red Sox bullpen [as the problem] right now," Hillenbrand said. "It's a team. We've got to pick each other up."
Al Levine (1-1) pitched a perfect eighth but gave up a leadoff walk to Bill Mueller in the ninth. Nomar Garciaparra singled Mueller to third, then Bobby Seay walked pinch hitter Todd Walker on four pitches to load the bases.
Hillenbrand fouled off the first pitch from reliever Travis Harper, then knocked the second through the middle.
Casey Fossum pitched seven strong innings for the Red Sox, allowing six hits and a run, striking out four and walking none. But Boston's much-discussed closer-by-committee failed for the third time in five tries. No one has been worse than Mendoza, who was booed when he was introduced at the home opener and again after each hit last night. After failing to retire a Tampa Bay batter, his ERA went from 11.57 to 16.71.
"He faced four hitters and didn't get any of them out," Red Sox Manager Grady Little said. "This kid will help us out. He's just getting off to a rough start."
* YANKEES 5, BLUE JAYS 0: Mike Mussina gave host New York just what it needed, allowing three hits in eight innings to beat Toronto for the best start in franchise history.
Jorge Posada homered and Bernie Williams had three hits and two RBI for the Yankees, who have won 11 of 13 for the first time to open the season.
Following a 10-9 victory Monday night, when New York used five relievers for 4 2/3innings, Manager Joe Torre was counting on a long outing from Mussina (3-0), who beat the Blue Jays for the seventh straight time since joining the Yankees. Toronto lost its sixth in a row overall.
* RANGERS 5, ANGELS 4: Ryan Christenson had a two-run double hours after being called up from the minors, and Einar Diaz added a two-run single in a five-run fourth inning as Texas beat visiting Anaheim.
* TWINS 6, TIGERS 4: Torii Hunter broke his slump by going 2 for 4 with a homer, helping Minnesota to its 12th straight victory against visiting Detroit and its fourth win in a row overall.
* ROYALS 8, WHITE SOX 5: Mike Sweeney hit a two-run homer and Brandon Berger added a two-run single in the ninth inning as visiting Kansas City improved to 11-1 -- its best start ever.
* MARINERS 5, ATHLETICS 3: John Olerud's RBI double in the eighth gave host Seattle the lead in its fourth consecutive victory.