Jose Offerman put an exclamation point on his outstanding regular season with a milestone homer. He can only hope to perform as well in the playoffs.
This much is certain: He's bound to have more fun than the last time.
"He's really played well. Hitting leadoff, he has about 70 RBIs," Boston manager Jimy Williams said. "That's pretty impressive for a leadoff hitter."
The only time Offerman went to the playoffs was in 1995 with the Los Angeles Dodgers. He played in one game and did not get to the plate.
"It was a moment that I never enjoyed," Offerman said. "This time I will enjoy it a little bit more. It's nice being in the playoffs this time because I know that I'm going to play."
The Orioles, who carried a lofty $78.5 million payroll on opening day, the third-highest in baseball, fell to 78-82 with two games left. Baltimore needs a split in its last two games to match last year's record, which also was a disappointment.
"That's about all we've been playing for the past month," said Jerry Hairston Jr., who went 2-for-4 and scored a run. "We made a strong push but just couldn't keep it up."
Eugene Kingsale had a two-run single for the Orioles, who have lost five of seven following a 13-game winning streak. Mike Bordick's fourth-inning single was Baltimore's 1,558th it of the season, breaking the previous team record set in 1996.
"That's about the only good thing that happened tonight," Orioles manager Ray Miller said.
Nomar Garciaparra (sore wrist) was absent from the Boston clubhouse and likely won't see action this weekend.
"He went back to Boston and got a couple of little tests today. He has a tendon in his right wrist that is swollen," Boston general manager Dan Duquette said. "He was given an injection with some cortisone. He's going to rest for a couple of days and he should be ready for the playoffs."
Boston starter Bret Saberhagen pitched two scoreless innings before being lifted by Williams, whose focus has turned to getting his team ready for the playoffs against Cleveland or Texas starting Wednesday.
"The preparation for tonight, it wasn't the same as it would be for the playoffs. I didn't really have the adrenaline," Saberhagen said. "It kind of seemed like a spring training game."
Ohka (1-2) followed Saberhagen with three scoreless innings for his first major league victory.
The Red Sox scored all the runs they needed in the first inning against Doug Linton (1-4). Offerman hit the first pitch for a single and Varitek hit his 20th homer. Reggie Jefferson then singled and scored on a double by Brian Daubach.
Boston made it 4-0 in the third when Wilton Veras hit a two-out single and Trot Nixon followed with an RBI double.
Offerman hit a two-run homer in the sixth, and Kingsale ruined the shutout with a two-run single off Tom Gordon in the seventh. Gordon gave up two hits and two runs over 1 2-3 innings in his second appearance since returning from the 60-day disabled list Monday.
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