Red Sox sew up playoff berth; Angels keep pace with A's in West

Posted: Tuesday, September 28, 2004

ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. The Boston Red Sox clinched their second straight trip to the playoffs, rallying past the Tampa Bay Devil Rays 7-3 Monday night behind Manny Ramirez's AL-leading 43rd home run.

Johnny Damon hit his career-high 19th homer for the Red Sox, who are assured of no worse than the AL wild-card berth. Boston closed within three games of the AL East-leading New York Yankees with six remaining.

The Red Sox, held hitless for four innings, went ahead on Damon's three-run homer and Ramirez's 458-foot, two-run drive after Tampa Bay starter Scott Kazmir was ejected for hitting Ramirez and Kevin Millar with pitches in the fourth inning. The Devil Rays led 2-0 at the time.

Tampa Bay manager Lou Piniella also was tossed after Kazmir plunked Ramirez and Millar in a span of four pitches. The first one appeared to be retaliation for Boston's Bronson Arroyo hitting Aubrey Huff and Tino Martinez the previous inning.

Angels 5, Rangers 3

ARLINGTON, Texas Chone Figgins had an RBI triple and then scored the go-ahead run on an infield grounder in the eighth inning, leading Anaheim over Texas in the opener of the key AL West series.

Bartolo Colon (17-12) allowed just four hits in eight-plus innings, becoming the first pitcher to beat Texas six times in a season.

The Angels remained a game behind AL West-leading Oakland. The Rangers fell three games behind the Athletics.

After Figgins tripled in the eighth to tie the game at 3-all, he raced home on Darin Erstad's grounder. First baseman Mark Teixeira fielded cleanly and threw home, but Figgins slid around the sweeping tag of Ken Huckaby and was able to touch the back corner of home plate with his fingertips.

Blue Jays 4, Orioles 1

BALTIMORE Gregg Zaun homered and Orlando Hudson had three hits and an RBI, leading Toronto past Baltimore.

Melvin Mora went 3-for-4 with a homer for the Orioles, whose four-game winning streak ended. The defeat means Baltimore (74-81) will complete a seventh straight season without a winning record.

Orioles starter Sidney Ponson (11-15) allowed three runs and nine hits in six innings to fall to 8-3 since the All-Star break.

Pitching for the second time since ending a two-month stint on the disabled list with a sore shoulder, Toronto starter Roy Halladay allowed one run and four hits before being pulled after throwing 70 pitches in three innings.

Tigers 5, White Sox 2

DETROIT Dmitri Young hit a tiebreaking, two-run homer in the sixth inning, and Detroit made the most of three hits to stop a five-game losing streak.

Gary Knotts (6-6) allowed two runs and five hits in 6 2-3 innings. Esteban Yan, Detroit's fourth pitcher, got two outs for his sixth save, completing a six-hitter.

Indians 6, Royals 1

KANSAS CITY, Mo. Casey Blake drove in three runs and Jake Westbrook pitched seven strong innings to lead Cleveland over Kansas City.

Westbrook (14-9) gave up five hits, lowering his ERA to 3.28, third in the American League.

Athletics 6, Mariners 5

OAKLAND, Calif. Bobby Crosby's sacrifice fly with one out in the ninth scored pinch-runner Esteban German with the winning run for Oakland.

The A's maintained their one-game lead in the AL West over second-place Anaheim.

Oakland held Ichiro Suzuki to one hit, leaving him five shy of George Sisler's record of 257.

Octavio Dotel (5-2) pitched a perfect ninth, getting two strikeouts and Mark Kotsay's clutch catch against the center-field wall on a hard-hit ball by Jose Lopez.

Erubiel Durazo hit a bloop double off Ron Villone (7-6) leading off the bottom half, a ball between left fielder Raul Ibanez and Lopez, the shortstop. The two didn't communicate, and the ball went off Lopez's glove and fell to the ground in shallow left.

Jermaine Dye's groundout moved Durazo to third, then Scott Hatteberg drew an intentional walk to put runners on the corners. German ran for Durazo, and Marco Scutaro walked.

Crosby lined a 1-0 pitch to right to win it.

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