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RED SOX 3, A'S 2

Taking one for the team

Ramirez a hit as Red Sox steal it from A's in 10th

The Red Sox kept pace with the triumphant Yankees last night, pulling out a dramatic 10th-inning win when Manny Ramirez was hit with a pitch off the left elbow with the bases loaded by Keiichi Yabu, scoring pinch runner Alejandro Machado with the winning run in a 3-2 victory.

''We were all sitting here watching, waiting, and it stunned us all [how it ended]," Sox manager Terry Francona said.

Any Red Sox fan probably had the urge late in the game to grab a bat and hit the winner for Tim Wakefield.

For the second time in his last three starts, Wakefield went nine innings, but the Sox' offense could do nothing for him in the seventh through ninth innings after David Ortiz's home run tied the score at 2-2 in the sixth.

''What a thrill to watch him," Francona said of Wakefield.

As superb as Wakefield was, the A's bullpen matched him in the late innings.

Justin Duchscherer's 2 1/3 scoreless innings, from the final out of the seventh to striking out the side in the ninth, kept Wakefield out of the win column.

The A's used four pitchers to retire the Sox in the seventh and preserve the 2-2 tie. The Sox' first two batters reached against starter Joe Kennedy, a walk by Kevin Youkilis and an infield single to shortstop by Doug Mirabelli.

A's manager Ken Macha began his maneuvers at this point. He summoned righthander Kiko Calero to face the bottom of the order, No. 8 hitter Bill Mueller and No. 9 hitter Tony Graffanino. He struck out both. Macha made the switch to lefthander Ricardo Rincon to face Johnny Damon. It was a good battle, as Damon drew a walk to load the bases with two outs. And with Edgar Renteria due up, Macha went to the mound once more to bring on Justin Duchscherer.

The result was frustrating for Sox fans -- a ground out to shortstop, ending the inning.

The Sox never had anyone warm up during the long inning, which meant Wakefield was going to pitch the eighth. Wakefield didn't seem affected by the downtime. He retired the A's 1-2-3, and he was as economical in the ninth.

The scoreboard indicated the Yankees were well on their way to victory over the Blue Jays by the time the 1-hour-37-minute rain delay gave way to intermittent rain, wind, and just plain lousy weather for baseball. Though by the sixth inning in Boston, the Blue Jays had closed the gap to 11-10 after an 11-3 deficit.

Sox players have admitted lately that they do peek at the scoreboard, and despite the fact that Randy Johnson was ejected in the second inning in Toronto for arguing balls and strikes, the Yankees were clicking. And the Sox knew it.

Wakefield has been the most consistent Sox pitcher this season, though he was the tough-luck loser, 1-0, to the Yankees and Johnson last Sunday, when he went eight innings and allowed three hits with 12 strikeouts.

Last night, aiming for his 16th win, Wakefield faced the minimum nine batters over the first three innings, allowing only a leadoff walk in the first to Mark Ellis before inducing a double play from the next batter, Jason Kendall.

The Sox staked Wakefield to a 1-0 lead in the second, Kevin Millar scoring on Kendall's passed ball after Mirabelli struck out. It started when Millar doubled to right-center off Kennedy with one out, extending Millar's hitting streak to 13 games. After Youkilis, playing first base and batting sixth, singled to center to advance Millar to third, Mirabelli whiffed, but the ball bounded to the left of Kendall.

The first hit off Wakefield was a double to left field by Ellis to open the fourth. The inning included one of those plays you don't see every day. After Kendall singled to right to advance Ellis to third, Mark Kotsay hit a pop up toward center. Renteria went out, and Damon ran in and called off Renteria. Damon was just a few feet from the infield when the ball hit off the heel of his glove. But he managed to recover and force Kendall at second base, however, Ellis scored the tying run.

A single to right field by Eric Chavez and an opposite-field hit by Jay Payton produced the go-ahead run for the A's. Wakefield was able to induce a double-play grounder from the slow-footed Scott Hatteberg to escape further damage.

The Sox were showing signs of breaking out of their malaise against Kennedy. Ramirez doubled to the 379-foot marker in center with one out in the fourth. Cutoff man Marco Scutaro took the throw from Kotsay and threw to second baseman Ellis at the bag, the ball getting there at the same time as Ramirez, who went in standing. It was a case of a tie going to the runner.

But Ramirez didn't advance as Kennedy, who throws across his body, struck out Millar and Youkilis swinging to end the inning. A similar situation occurred in the fifth, when the Sox wasted a two-out double by Graffanino that knocked around the right-field line near the Pesky Pole.

Ortiz, however, stroked the equalizer in the sixth, a line shot to the right-field bleachers on a 1-and-2 pitch, his 43d home run of the season, tying him with Yankee Alex Rodriguez, who also hit his 43d last night. It was Ortiz's 11th homer against lefthanded pitching, and his 132d RBI.

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