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BoSox Close On Jays' Wild Lead


Maybe a day off was exactly what the Red Sox needed.

John Valentin hit a go-ahead double in the fifth inning and Boston rallied from a four-run deficit to beat the Toronto Blue Jays 11-9 Tuesday night.

Boston, which had lost 12 of 17 coming in and dropped out the lead in the AL wild-card race, trailed 7-3 before scoring six runs in the fifth. The Red Sox, who trail the Blue Jays by a half-game, had 18 hits.

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  • "Psychologically, when your not playing well, you need a day off to say let's rest up, let's regroup the next day, and let's play hard," Valentin said. "That's what we did today, and we needed this win."

    Boston won despite starter Bret Saberhagen allowing seven runs and nine hits in 3 1-3 innings.

    "With the day off yesterday I thought I'd give the bullpen some work," said Saberhagen, winless in three starts since July 9. "I was ugly."

    Five Red Sox relievers allowed just two runs and five hits the rest of the way.

    "Fortunately our bullpen was rested, the day off yesterday helped us a lot," Boston manager Jimy Williams said. "We pieced together the win by matching up righties with lefties."

    Boston's rally began when Nomar Garciaparra doubled off David Wells leading off the fifth, Mike Stanley singled and Butch Huskey, acquired Monday from Seattle, appeared to hit a three-run homer.

    But third-base umpire Bill Welke, one of the 25 minor league umps just hired, ruled the ball hit off the top of the fence. TV replays showed the ball bounced off a towel sitting on a metal bar in the bullpen just behind the fence.

    "I knew it was a homer, and after further review it was," Huskey said.

    One run scored on the play, which wound up as an RBI single, and Troy O'Leary's double chased Wells. Damon Buford followed with a run-scoring squeeze bunt and Jason Varitek's double tied it.

    After Valentin's go-ahead double, Garciaparra singled in a run for a 9-7 lead.

    "We scored a lot of runs tonight, but we just couldn't hold them," loser Roy Halladay (7-4) said. "It was tough night for the pitching staff."

    Toronto, which was nine games behind Boston on June 28, has gone 19-6 since. The Blue Jays lost for just the second time in 11 games.

    Shawn Green, who extended his hitting streak to an AL season-high 25 games, was hit by a pitch by Rheal Cormier with the bases loaded in the sixth, but Carlos Delgado hit into an inning ending double play.

    "That was the key play of the game," Williams said.

    O'Leary tripled in the eighth and scored on a sacrifice fly by Varitek. Lewis, who went 3-for-5 with three RBIs, followed with an RBI grounder that made it 11-8.

    Jose Cruz Jr. homered off Derek Lowe in the bottom half.

    Mark Guthrie (1-1) pitched a scoreless inning for the win, and Tim Wakefield got four outs for his 13th save.

    "The day off helped a lot, the bullpen has been used heavily the last week and a half," Wakefield said.

    Wells gave up seven runs and 11 hits in four-plus innings.

    Garciaparra's RBI double in the first and Lewis' two-run single in the second gave Boston a 3-0 lead.

    Toronto went ahead 5-3 in the second on run-scoring single by Cruz and Homer Bush, an RBI double by Shannon Stewart, and Willie Greene's two-run double off the glove of Buford in center.

    Greene, who had a season-high four RBIs, hit a two-run homer in the fourth.

    Notes:

  • Toronto third baseman Tony Fernandez missed his second straight game because of a sore left knee. He is day-to-day.
  • Huskey went 3-for-5 with an RBI.
  • Toronto drew 38,631, its third largest crowd of the season. The Blue Jays delayed the start 12 minutes to allow fans waiting in line to get to their seats. They also removed a tarp covering a 1,000 seats.

    ©1999 The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed

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