Orioles 9, Red Sox 6
-- Five minutes after the end of Monday's game, a 9-6 win by the Baltimore Orioles against the Red Sox, thousands of Boston fans remained at Fenway Park and continued to cheer. On the field, a player with a Red Sox uniform carrying the long locks of Johnny Damon mingled with a group of men dressed as Tampa Bay Devil Rays.
A baseball park had turned into a movie set, but nothing captured on film could top the peculiar game that had taken place only minutes prior.
Melvin Mora was the star of this show, a madcap romp. Mora reached base three times, scored three runs, made a thoughtless base-running mistake but scored anyway, made one error and then helped to load the bases for the Red Sox in the sixth when he decided to try to tag out a runner at third though he could have just tagged the base after he received a throw from Miguel Tejada on a ground ball with runners on first and second. In the ninth he hit a towering home run over the Green Monster in left field against Boston closer Keith Foulke, giving the Orioles a bit of insurance.
"I need to go to bed because it made me tired," Mora said of Monday's game. "I'm glad we won."
By the fifth inning the game had fallen so out of control for Boston starter Tim Wakefield that Mora scored the Orioles' seventh run of the game on a botched rundown play. Mora, standing on third with Tejada at second base, apparently thought a walk to Rafael Palmeiro, who left the game later that inning with a strained right hamstring, had come with the bases loaded. Mora, after the fourth ball of the at-bat, walked toward home and was immediately caught in a rundown.
"They caught me in between," Mora said. "I don't know what I was thinking."
But a low throw to Doug Mirabelli covering third forced the catcher into a rushed throw to Kevin Millar, who stood at home. Millar dropped the ball, allowing Mora to score.
"I know that it was going to kill me," Mora said. "But I'm going to run to make them tired, too."
Throughout the chase, Mora said he kept yelling, "You're not going to catch me."
And they didn't.
"I didn't give up," Mora said.
Baltimore Manager Lee Mazzilli said the team won't sacrifice wins at any price. It is the reason Mazzilli continues to scrutinize the game with the pinpoint precision of a manager in the postseason. It is the reason Mazzilli made four pitching changes through the first six innings. It is the reason he took Matt Riley out of the game in the fifth inning, only one out away from a possible win.
"We were trying to win a game," Mazzilli said. "That's the bottom line."
With the Orioles leading 8-4 and men on second and third and Millar at the plate with two outs, Mazzilli took Riley out of the game.
"I'm disappointed," Riley said. "I thought I pitched good today. But that's the manager's decision."
In the second inning, Riley broke Boston slugger David Ortiz's bat on a checked swing. The ball rolled feebly up the third base line. The barrel of the bat lay splintered on the first base side.
Ortiz got revenge in the fourth. With one out and Manny Ramirez, who reached on a Mora error, on first base, Ortiz sent a drive deep into the right field stands for his 39th home run. But Riley had made his point. He was capable of shattering even the mightiest of bats.
"I can pitch to Ortiz," Riley said.
The knuckleball is a fickle pitch. For three innings, the Orioles appeared incapable of hitting Wakefield's signature pitch. They flailed, waved, swung past, swung through the fluctuating floater. All they had managed was a double and five strikeouts.
But the dominance ended with just one at-bat that seemed to unravel Wakefield. He fell into trouble after striking out four consecutive Orioles. Wakefield hit Mora with one out in the fourth, then allowed a single to Tejada and walked Palmeiro and Javy Lopez to drive in a run.
B.J. Surhoff followed with a grand slam, giving the Orioles a 5-0 lead. Baltimore added three more runs in the fifth. Wakefield allowed a run-scoring single to Javy Lopez before being mercifully removed from the game. Wakefield allowed seven runs in just 41/3 innings, throwing 102 pitches -- just 56 strikes -- while tying his season high with seven strikeouts. He was unhittable for three innings, and miserable for the next 11/3 innings.
For Wakefield, the script had changed dramatically.