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Francona had no second thought on lineup

John W. Henry's hope for tonight in the Bronx?

"Let's hope it rains," he said. "Both teams need a day off."

According to the forecast provided by The Weather Channel, there's an 80 percent chance of rain today, and a 60 percent chance of rain continuing in the evening, which may allow a respite for two clubs at the brink of exhaustion, most notably in the bullpens. The Sox have used 19 pitchers in the last three games, including the 19-8 Game 3 loss Saturday night, while the Yankees have used 15.

From a first pitch of 8:20 p.m. Sunday in Game 4 to David Ortiz's game-winning single at 10:59 p.m. last night, the teams have combined to play a total of 10 hours and 51 minutes.

"Twenty-six innings," Henry said, reflecting on the back-to-back games that rank as the longest games played in ALCS history, with last night's game standing as the longest in postseason history (5:49). "That's 26 innings. How many hours? Eleven hours? And those two catchers [Jason Varitek of the Sox and Jorge Posada of the Yankees] caught every inning?"

Henry said that after Game 4, he wasn't able to go to sleep until 5:30 a.m.

"I'm usually a sound sleeper," he said, "but I didn't sleep that well last night.

"I think we'll look back at these games and say, `Do you remember any of that?' "

Extra credit
The Sox became just the third team in postseason history to win consecutive games in extra innings to stave off elimination. In the 1980 National League Division Series between the Astros and Phillies, Philadelphia trailed, two games to one, and beat the Astros, 5-3, in 10 innings in Game 4 and then won Game 5, 8-7, in 10 innings. In the 1991 World Series, Minnesota won both Game 6 and 7 in extra innings over the Braves, winning Game 6 in 11 innings, 4-3, and Game 7 in 10 innings, 1-0 . . . The Sox are now 7-0-1 in postseason extra-inning games in Boston. They tied the Giants in Game 2 of the 1912 World Series in a game called by darkness after 11 innings. They are 3-0 in extra-inning games in this postseason . . . Sox general manager Theo Epstein, on Tim Wakefield's game-saving relief performance: "Wake and Jason Varitek willed each other through it. They are two guys who have been here a long time. This is very important to them. They didn't want to let each other down, and they didn't want to let their teammates down." . . . Even though second baseman Mark Bellhorn was 1 for 14 with eight strikeouts through the first four games of the ALCS and had been dropped from his customary second spot in the order to ninth, manager Terry Francona appeared baffled when asked if he considered benching Bellhorn for Pokey Reese. "No," Francona said. "Why? He drove in 80 runs. That's a lot of runs. That's a lot of RBIs. We'll do it like we usually do it. Get a lead, and Pokey gets in. Bellhorn is a very underrated, very underappreciated player. We have more confidence in him than you guys [reporters] do. He's a pretty good player."

Travelin' Manny?
According to close buddy Ortiz, who has committed to playing for the team of US All-Stars that will tour Japan next month, Manny Ramirez will be joining him in Japan. One Sox official wasn't so sure. "I'll believe it," the official said, "when Manny steps on the plane." . . . Ortiz is the first player in history to hit two walkoff home runs in the same postseason. Ortiz's 10th-inning home run in Game 3 of the Division Series against Anaheim eliminated the Angels, and his 12th-inning home run in Game 4 of the ALCS gave the Sox a 6-4 win . . . Varitek discovered a novel way to counteract his history of futility against Mike Mussina. The switch-hitting Varitek, who was 4 for 48 lifetime against Mussina, including four postseason at-bats, batted righthanded in the first inning and drew a bases-loaded, full-count walk, forcing in the Sox' second run. Varitek was credited with an RBI, his first ever against Mussina. Varitek did not fare as well in his second at-bat, striking out on three pitches with runners on the corners to end the third . . . Bronson Arroyo, who lasted just three batters into the third inning in his Game 3 start, came out of the bullpen last night to retire the Yankees in order in the 10th.

A short stay
Nelson de la Rosa, the 29-inch Dominican entertainer befriended by Martinez, was at the game and in the area behind home plate. He was charging people $10 for a picture with him; security told him to leave . . . Dan Duquette sighting: The former Sox general manager was on the field and in the dugout before the game and did at least one TV interview . . . Framingham Lou Merloni was in the house. The former Sox utilityman said he and his father, Lou Sr., stayed for all 5 hours and 2 minutes of Sunday night's game. Merloni, who had elbow surgery and missed the last six weeks of the season in Cleveland, was designated for assignment by the Indians, but club officials have said they want him back . . . Former Sox slugger Jim Rice, now a NESN studio analyst, threw out the ceremonial first pitch . . . The Sox tried to tap into the "Miracle on Ice" magic, inviting Mike Eruzione, captain of the 1980 US Olympic hockey team, to deliver the game ball to the mound. Highlights of the US win over the Soviet Union was shown, followed by this message: "Ladies and gentlemen, it has happened before." . . . The anthem was sung by 4-year-old Jordan Leandre, a Jimmy Fund patient, and "God Bless America" was sung by 13-year-old Ashley Gearing, a recording artist from Springfield. 

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