It was a confusing little dance Doug Mirabelli performed while at third base. Toward home plate. Twist. Turn. Back to third base. And then, in a moment that seemed to make Mirabelli cringe just as surely as it did the 36,457 sun-drenched fans in attendance yesterday at Fenway Park, he plodded toward home, only to be tagged out by Orioles catcher Paul Bako.
Mirabelli's choices were limited, as Dustin Pedroia was advancing to third after Nick Markakis collected the fly to the warning track in right by David Ortiz. It would have been -- and should have been -- a sacrifice fly to put the Red Sox up, 4-3, in the sixth inning. Instead, it went into the books as a 9-6-2 double play.
Fortunately, at least for Mirabelli's psyche, redemption was quick to come. One inning later, in fact, as the catcher added his third hit of the afternoon, an RBI single that broke the tie in what would become a 7-4 Red Sox win.
"No doubt, I left early," Mirabelli said. "It's just one of those things where I was trying to get a good jump. I don't run very fast -- I think you guys probably know that. Regardless of how far that ball is, when I'm on third I never feel like I have an easy trot into the plate.
"It's hard to make two mistakes in one play running the bases, but I achieved it today. The first mistake was leaving too early on a ball that I didn't really have to leave that early [on]. Then to go back and tag and try to come home after that was the second mistake. It's embarrassing. It's one of those things where as good of a game as it looks like I had, I feel like I had a terrible game."
It started out so well for Mirabelli. With one run already in on Manny Ramírez's single in the third, Eric Hinske hit a home run to right to push the Red Sox to a 2-0 lead in the fourth. On the next pitch, Mirabelli's drive hit the first row of the Monster Seats for his fourth homer. It was the sixth time the Sox have hit consecutive home runs this season.
In the fifth, Sox starter Tim Wakefield delayed his 41st birthday celebration by allowing three runs, beginning with a sacrifice fly by Jay Payton that scored Aubrey Huff (triple). Bako and Brian Roberts scored on Corey Patterson's single. But that would be it for the Orioles against Wakefield (13-9), though they mustered a ninth-inning run off Eric Gagne in the reliever's first appearance with the Red Sox.
Baltimore's fifth-inning runs took Jeremy Guthrie -- also the Orioles' starter in the Mother's Day Miracle game -- off the hook. Guthrie has not yet lost a game on the road as a starter this season.
While it didn't take anything nearly as dramatic to beat the Orioles as it did the last time Guthrie made an appearance in Boston, it did require some late-inning offense. The Sox recorded their second straight seventh-inning revival, led by Mirabelli, who notched his first three-hit game since Aug. 25, 2004.
With two outs, Coco Crisp was on first via a fielder's choice. He stole second, Hinske was intentionally walked (J.D. Drew ran for him), and Mirabelli came to the plate. And he came through, sending a Rob Bell pitch into center to score Crisp.
"The emotions were more relieving than anything," Mirabelli said. "It just felt like you had to come through in that situation. If you don't, you feel like you had a chance to really let the team down. To come back and actually pull ahead, it feels good. But it's more relief than anything."
Alex Cora followed with a single and then, in what was a common occurrence yesterday, Nick Markakis played a catchable fly off the bat of Dustin Pedroia into a two-run double as the ball bounced off his glove, off his face, and off into right field. (Markakis was charged with a sixth-inning error, and the Orioles' left and right fielders misplayed four other balls, though none was deemed an error.) That made the score 7-3, sending the Sox to a positive conclusion in a game that could have been a missed opportunity, especially with the Yankees losing.
"I think we're probably one of the few teams where [when] something like that happens, you don't see a lot of tension in the dugout," Sox manager Terry Francona said. "We don't want to make mistakes, and that was an important part of the game, but we were very hopeful we would overcome and win. I think teams show a lot of their colors in instances like that. There wasn't tension, where you could see that on some teams."
Instead of dropping a game, the Sox made yesterday the second straight day of overcoming -- a deficit on Wednesday, a base-running play yesterday.
"There's no quit in us," Pedroia said. "We had some good at-bats there in a row. Everybody was putting at-bats together at the right time. It was a big win for us."
Amalie Benjamin can be reached at email@example.com.