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Cabrera goes extra mile

He hits new high after long trip back

Orlando Cabrera began the day in South America, leaving Colombia in the pre-dawn hours. He ended it with his biggest hit as a Red Sox.

He did all this against his wife Eliana's wishes. She wanted him to stay in Colombia, but he knew she was in good hands and that he was needed in Boston. She underwent surgery earlier this week.

"I was thinking about taking another day, because my wife asked me to stay another day," Cabrera said. "I kept saying, `I got to go, I got to go, I got to go.' Once I was at the airport, I called my agent and told him to call Theo [Epstein] and tell him I was going to be here the next day and I wanted to be in the lineup. Once I landed in Boston, I went to my apartment and called Terry [Francona] and left a voice mail saying I was here and that I wanted to play."

Before boarding a shuttle to Boston, he bought a newspaper to see how the Red Sox did Tuesday night. He read the story and was ecstatic about his double play partner Mark Bellhorn pounding out the winning hit in the walkoff victory.

Last night Cabrera duplicated Bellhorn's feat, smashing a leadoff home run into the Monster seats off Rick Bauer in the 12th inning to give the Red Sox a 7-6 walkoff victory over the Orioles. It moved them to within 3 1/2 games of the Yankees, who lost to Toronto.

"I was just trying to make contact with the pitch," said Cabrera. "I was just trying to put the ball in play the whole time. I took a lot of swings inside when I was facing [Jason] Grimsley with the bases loaded [in the ninth] and [Bauer's] the same type of pitcher." It was Cabrera's fifth home run as a Red Sox, but his first in Fenway Park. It was also the fourth time the Red Sox won with a walkoff home run this season, the first since Bill Mueller's two-run homer off Mariano Rivera July 24 against the Yankees.

When he rounded third and came home, Cabrera took a beating from his overjoyed teammates. "It was unbelievable," said Cabrera. "Oh, my God. They started hitting me. I don't know who it was, I think it was Manny, tried to take my pants off. I think it was Manny. Or Millar. One of those two guys. It was a great win."

His home run was a redemption for Cabrera, who came up in the ninth inning with the bases loaded and a chance to win the game, but he bounced into a fielder's choice to third baseman Melvin Mora, with Dave Roberts being forced at home.

"Good for him," said Francona. "He had a chance earlier and had a great at-bat and didn't drive the run in. I mean he played a great game in the field and gets a huge hit in that I mean it was probably going to come down to something like that. I don't think he had jet lag."

"Jet lag? What's that," said Cabrera. "I'm a little bit [tired]. I slept the whole night on the plane. What do they call it, red-eye. From Bogota to New York. Six hours. I slept all the way. Remember, I played for the Expos and we had a lot of long flights."

Cabrera did more than just hit a home run for the Red Sox. He made a couple of key plays in the field as well, including a nice play to throw out Luis Lopez to end the sixth inning after the Orioles had taken a 5-4 lead.

He is back at shortstop. His wife is in good hands in Colombia. And the Red Sox are a game closer to the Yankees.

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