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One frame gave picture

One inning was the story of the season. One inning was the reason Red Sox fans run screaming out into Yawkey Way and jump into their cars this summer, and why they make a U-turn on the Jamaicaway and come storming back.

One inning of last night's enervating 12-9 loss to the Toronto Blue Jays -- the nine-run circus maximus that was the fourth -- explains why the Fenway faithful are so exhilarated and so exasperated by this ball club. There is no game they can't win. There is no game they can't lose.

Last night's line score says it all: Toronto 012 400 050. Boston 010 500 111.

"We can put up zeroes for three or four innings," said second baseman Todd Walker, whose team fell behind, 7-1, scrambled back to 7-7, fell behind, 12-7, then were within a Manny Ramirez swing of tying it, 12-12, in the eighth. "Then put up five or six."

And with their pitching, they can give up four, put up three zeroes, then give up five. The fourth inning showed both sides of this split-personality nine.

Here was Tim Wakefield, who recorded one of the more unusual no-decisions you'll ever see, giving up three doubles. When the last of them, by Orlando Hudson, banged off the Wall above David McCarty's glove in the fourth, a disgusted "Awwwwwww!" emanated from the seats. When it was followed by a single and yet another double and Toronto's seventh run came in, the boos could be heard in Park Square.

Half an inning later, the yard was rocking and the vulgar Yankee chants were heard. Five hits, five runs from a batting order that had Doug Mirabelli, McCarty, Gabe Kapler, and Damian Jackson hitting in a row.

It began with a Ramirez single, then a walk to Kevin Millar, then a single by Mirabelli, which scored a run and brought McCarty to the plate for a three-run homer on the first pitch. Still nobody out, and more to come. A single by Kapler. A misplayed grounder by shortstop Mike Bordick that put Jackson on base. Then a single through the hole by Bill Mueller for a fifth run.

So it was 7-6 now, and when Millar knocked in Walker with a double in the seventh, anything seemed possible.

"That is the kind of ball club we have," said manager Grady Little. "They keep battling. They figure they have a chance to win, and they certainly showed that again tonight."

What the Sox also showed is that even nine runs and 15 hits against a team 16 games out of first isn't enough. Not when the starter gives up seven in four innings. Not when the bullpen door opens six times and four of the people emerging don't last more than a third of an inning.

Anyone who hadn't bolted for home after the top of the fourth was gone by the bottom of the eighth, after the Blue Jays had put up a five-spot and turned the evening into a Little League World Series semifinal. It has been that kind of a season around this town, and there is another month to come. Every night, every inning, is a lottery.

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