Texas Rangers closer John Wetteland took the mound to start the ninth with a three-run lead Thursday night and didn't want to have to face Boston Red Sox slugger Mo Vaughn.
Five batters later, that's exactly what happened.
Wetteland ended the game, though, by striking out Vaughn on a full count with runners on first and second for his 30th save. With the 7-4 victory,
"I went to the mound thinking I can't let Mo come up as the tying run, but that's what happened, and I had nobody to blame but myself," said Wetteland, who has 30 or more saves six times in his career. "In that situation against a hitter as talented as Mo, if you're going to throw it to a spot, you'd better have a little extra mustard on it and that's what happened."
Wetteland, pitching in his third straight game, walked Scott Hatteberg to lead off the ninth, struck out the next two batters, then gave up a single to John Valentin. Wetteland used a high fastball to strike out Vaughn, who homered twice.
"I got John where I wanted to get him and that's half the battle," Vaughn said. "But John made a good pitch. I need to do better with runners in scoring position."
Most of te crowd of 32,132 was on its feet to cheer the climax of a possible first-round playoff preview.
"We're playing inspired baseball," Rangers manager Johnny Oates said. "You can feel it in the dugout, on the field and in the community. I always say good pitching can stop good hitting. It (good hitting) will get you every once in a while, but not tonight."
Gonzalez's 429-foot solo homer in the seventh was just the fifth ball hit into the second deck in left field in the five-year history of The Ballpark in Arlington.
Vaughn hit his 28th and 29th homers for the Red Sox, who had won eight of their last 10.
Burkett (7-11) gave up solo homers to Vaughn and Mike Stanley, but the Red Sox managed just four other hits against him, all singles. Burkett allowed three runs, struck out two and walked three.
He also benefited from several good defensive plays from recently-acquired third baseman Todd Zeile.
"Todd made some key defensive plays," Burkett said. "That gives you a lot of confidence as a pitcher."
Saberhagen allowed five runs and eight hits over six innings, struck out three and walked one.
Boston took a 1-0 lead in the first on Vaughn's homer. Texas moved ahead 2-1 in the bottom of the inning as Tom Goodwin scored on Saberhagen's wild pitch. Clark drove in the second run with a double.
Texas extended its lead to 3-1 in the second on Alicea's two-out RBI single, and made it 4-1 in the third on Clark's RBI single.
Boston closed the deficit to 4-2 in the fourth on Stanley's 23rd homer, but Texas made it 5-2 in the bottom of the inning on Alicea's RBI triple.
The Rangers made it 6-3 in the seventh with the help of some daring baserunning by Goodwin. With Goodwin on second, Rusty Greer hit a grounder to the right side of the infield. Reliever Greg Swindell fielded the ball and raced to first to retire Greer, but Goodwin kept running and scored without a slide.
Gonzalez's homer made it 7-3, but Vaughn's homer off Eric Gunderson leading off the eighth cut the deficit to 7-4. Gunderson faced two other hitters in the eighth, but did not retire a batter. Xavier Hernandez finished the inning for Texas.
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