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Red Sox 11, Brewers 7

Little ails Red Sox as they craft sweep of the Brewers

Email|Print|Single Page| Text size + By Gordon Edes
Globe Staff / May 19, 2008

Some people still wanted more.

The Red Sox and Milwaukee Brewers offered a broad range of baseball delights yesterday afternoon during an 11-7 Sox win that gave Boston a three-game sweep of the Brew Crew.

The Sox hit four home runs, two by David Ortiz, to match their season high. Sox pitcher Josh Beckett gave up four home runs, for only the second time in his career, but lasted seven innings to improve his record to 5-3.

Ryan Braun, the newly enriched National League Rookie of the Year, hit two home runs, giving him three in two days.

Dustin Pedroia, the more modestly paid AL Rookie of the Year, had three hits, including his first home run in a month (117 at-bats).

Jacoby Ellsbury finally was caught stealing for the first time in the major leagues after 25 successful thefts, though it took a pitchout and perfect throw by Milwau kee catcher Jason Kendall to nab him. Ellsbury reciprocated by taking a hit away from Kendall with a diving catch in the ninth inning.

Sox first baseman Kevin Youkilis had three more hits, including his ninth home run. Brewers first baseman Prince Fielder blasted a home run over the visitors' bullpen, but he also whiffed three times against Sox pitching, twice against Beckett.

("I read where Fielder has become a vegetarian," an e-mailer, George Gliga of Everett, wrote on a weekend in which Fielder was on base seven times, with three doubles, a single, and two walks in addition to his home run. "After seeing him this weekend, he must eat a cornfield a day.")

And yet, as the afternoon shadows lengthened and the ballpark lights were turned on, a cry arose among a crowd of 37,204 that wanted one last bit of entertainment. "We want Gagné," they chanted.

But there would be no bloodsport this weekend at the expense of Eric Gagné, the relief pitcher whose career disintegrated last summer in the Fens and remains in intensive care in Milwaukee, where five blown saves caused him to be temporarily divested of closer duty, despite Milwaukee's $10 million investment in him.

Milwaukee manager Ned Yost summoned four other relievers, who combined to give up 5 runs and 10 hits over the last four innings after starter Carlos Villanueva gave up 6 runs on five hits in four innings, including back-to-back home runs by Pedroia and Ortiz in the third inning. But Gagné never got a call this weekend, in part because the Brewers led only once after the sixth inning in three games - they were ahead, 6-5, in the seventh inning Saturday night - and that lead did not last through the end of the inning.

The chants went unheeded.

"They love him," said a deadpan Sox shortstop Alex Cora, who played with Gagné on the Dodgers. "He came here last year for one reason, just to win, and he did that. Actually, he wanted to pitch this weekend. I thought it was good he didn't have to pitch."

Sox closer Jonathan Papelbon, who collected his 12th save Saturday and pitched a scoreless ninth inning in a nonsave situation yesterday, said he talked to Gagné at length this weekend.

"Gagné, he's a man in this game," he said. "A lot of people you put in this situation, they would crumble to the ground. He's a standup man in this game. No matter if you kick his butt to the ground, he's back the next day."

Yes, Papelbon said, he heard the fans clamoring for Gagné.

"I thought it was funny," he said. "I'm certain Gagné did, too. I know he was playing along with it, too.

"I learned a lot from Gagné, and I think he learned a lot from me."

The lesson the Sox reinforced again this weekend is that until someone proves otherwise, National League teams are overmatched when Boston is in the other dugout.

Since the start of the 2006 season, the Sox are 31-8 in interleague play, 18-3 at Fenway Park. They have to wait almost a month for another crack at National Leaguers - a stretch of 15 games against the Reds, Phillies, and Astros on the road and the Cardinals and Diamondbacks at home from June 13-29 - but this visit from the Brewers made a distant memory of the four-game losing streak they took into the weekend.

How to explain the interleague dominance?

"I don't know," manager Terry Francona said before dashing from the ballpark to catch part of his son Nick's graduation from the University of Pennsylvania. "I think we do a good job of compartmentalizing. We just play the game. I think that's the best way to go about it. You just play whoever you're supposed to."

Braun took Beckett deep in the first inning, J.J. Hardy homered with a man on in the fourth, and Braun and Fielder went back-to-back in the sixth. That barrage matched the one Toronto laid on Beckett in Rogers Centre May 30, 2006, Beckett's first season in Boston and one in which he gave up 36 home runs overall. So far, he has allowed nine, which actually puts him one ahead of his 2006 pace, though no one is acting particularly concerned.

"A few balls wandered over the middle of the plate, especially early on," Francona said.

"I made some good pitches, made some poor pitches," said Beckett, who gave up three of the home runs on curveballs. "At the end of the day we won, and that's what we were trying to do."

Gordon Edes can be reached at edes@globe.com.

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