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Milestone eludes Wakefield’s grasp

By Frank Dell’Apa
Globe Staff / August 4, 2011

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Tim Wakefield did his part in the Red Sox’ 4-3 win over Cleveland last night. But he was not around when Jacoby Ellsbury’s home run decided the game in the bottom of the ninth inning.

So Wakefield’s quest for his 200th victory will have to wait.

Wakefield lasted until the seventh inning, departing after Ezequiel Carrera’s two-out double tied the score, on Wakefield’s 99th pitch of the contest.

“I was hoping I would stay in for one more hitter, but I don’t make those decisions here,’’ Wakefield said.

Manager Terry Francona did not hesitate in bringing in Randy Williams to relieve Wakefield.

“He pitched terrific,’’ Francona said. “It’s hard. You know what’s riding on the game and for him, personally. But you kind of have to do what you think is right to win the game.

“Everybody is pulling for him to get the win, including myself - he pitched well.’’

It turned out Francona probably made the right moves. Williams walked Jason Kipnis, but then struck out two of the next four hitters. And Jonathan Papelbon stopped the Indians in the ninth, before Ellsbury finished things off.

“I made one bad pitch to Carrera and that was it,’’ Wakefield said. “I was satisfied, you know. I had good stuff again. I limited them to just one big inning. Other than that, I kept us in the game until the seventh inning.

“And, you know, we won, that’s the biggest thing - we won. The most important thing is to give quality innings for us to put us into the postseason.’’

Everything seemed to be in place for Wakefield as the Red Sox took a two-run lead in the first. Wakefield was cruising along into the fourth inning, but Kipnis homered, then Asdrubal Cabrera singled and scored on Travis Hafner’s double, tying the score.

Hafner advanced on a passed ball, but was stranded at third base as Wakefield struck out Carlos Santana and Kosuke Fukudome and Lonnie Chisenhall grounded out.

“The leadoff homer, I threw a fastball and he hit it for a homer,’’ Wakefield said. “Then, a bouncing ball over [Adrian Gonzalez’s] head could have been a double play. I was able to get them out.

Wakefield’s numbers were similar to his last start, a 3-1 loss to the White Sox Friday. But, as in Wakefield’s 199th victory, a 12-8 decision over Seattle July 24, one big inning threw him off.

“I felt like I was in a groove against Seattle, just that one inning,’’ Wakefield said. “Mentally, I kind of shut down there in the sixth inning.

“I’ve felt good all year. I had one little stretch, two or three starts there, where it wasn’t working as well as I wanted it to, but I was able to make some adjustments.’’

So No. 200 will have to wait.

“We have five, maybe six quality starters in the rotation,’’ Wakefield said. “So I don’t feel any burden or any other pressure than I need to.

“I want to do that, get deep in the game, give quality starts, give quality innings, and I’ve been able to do that last two starts.’’

Frank Dell’Apa can be reached at f_dellapa@globe.com.

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