Ortiz hero again

Boston wins 14-inning thriller

Associated Press

BOSTON -- David Ortiz lifted the ball into center field on the 471st pitch of the night, and for the second time in 21 1/2 hours, the Boston Red Sox poured out of their dugout to celebrate an improbable ending.

With another game that seemed it would never end, Boston's season just won't end.

Ortiz's RBI single off Esteban Loaiza with two outs in the 14th inning Monday night gave the Red Sox a 5-4 victory over the New York Yankees and pulled them to 3-2 in an AL championship series that is testing the endurance of players and fans alike.


The Red Sox, one inning away from elimination Sunday night, now are one game away from climbing out of a 3-0 deficit and forcing an anything-can-happen Game 7.

"The last two nights shows the depth, the character, the heart, the guts of our ballclub," winner Tim Wakefield said. "It took every ounce of whatever we had left to win tonight's game and to win last night's game."

This time, Boston was six outs from elimination before Ortiz's leadoff homer off Tom Gordon and Jason Varitek's sacrifice fly off Mariano Rivera tied it 4-4 in the eighth.

The next six innings were agonizingly tense, filled with a double play, three passed balls in the same inning, two Red Sox runners thrown out trying to steal second and 10 runners left on base.

When it was over, the teams had played back-to-back marathons that totaled 26 innings and almost 11 hours -- 5 hours, 2 minutes on Sunday and 5:49 Monday -- the longest by time in postseason history.

The Yankees had taken a 4-2 lead off Pedro Martinez in the sixth inning, but were shut out over the last eight by Mike Timlin, Keith Foulke, Bronson Arroyo, Mike Myers, Alan Embree and Wakefield as Boston's bullpen ran its scoreless streak to 14 1-3 innings.

In one pass through the Yankee lineup, Boston pitchers struck out Alex Rodriguez, Gary Sheffield, Hideki Matsui, Jorge Posada, Ruben Sierra and Tony Clark.

Sheffield struck out leading off the 13th but reached on a passed ball, and two more passed balls by Varitek on Wakefield's knuckler left runners on second and third.


But after the ball nearly got away from Varitek again, popping out of the catcher's glove but staying near the plate, Wakefield escaped by striking out Sierra on a 70 mph knuckler.

Wakefield, who gave up Aaron Boone's 11th-inning homer that ended Game 7 last year, followed with a 1-2-3 14th.

"In the last inning, he was on fumes," Boston manager Terry Francona said. "He pitched the last inning on heart."

Johnny Damon started the winning rally by drawing a one-out walk, and Manny Ramirez walked with two outs. Ortiz, who won Game 4 with a two-run homer in the bottom of the 12th inning, then fouled off six pitches, including one that just missed being a home run down the right-field line, before dumping a soft single into center field.

Half the Red Sox ran to greet Damon coming home; the others mobbed Ortiz halfway to second base.

"I was thinking I'd better get it done right here," Ortiz said. "They've got too many hitters that can change the game with one swing."

Injured ace Curt Schilling is slated to start for the Red Sox in Game 6 against Jon Lieber, but there could be a holdup: Rain is forecast for New York on Tuesday night.

Both teams could surely use the rest after three games in Boston that saw 1,298 pitches, 82 hits and 29 pitching changes over 35 innings. There's been 1,864 pitches in the five games thus far.


"Schilling's pitch count might be 180," Francona said.

The Yankees are just glad to get out of Boston.

"I think it will be good to go back home and gain some energy from the home crowd," Rodriguez said. "Three days here, it feels like we've been here a month."

None of the other 25 teams that fell behind 3-0 in a postseason series has ever come back to win -- and only two of them pushed it to six games.

Boston has won its last four postseason home games when facing elimination, with Ortiz getting the winning hit in three of them.

"This team has done something the last two days that will go down in history as an incredible accomplishment," Boston's Gabe Kapler said.

The Yankees looked poised to win their 40th AL pennant after Derek Jeter's opposite-field, three-run double to right on Martinez's 100th pitch in the sixth, but that turned out to be the only hit for the Yankees in 13 at-bats with runners in scoring position. Trot Nixon prevented even more runs with a sliding catch on Matsui's sinking drive to right with the bases loaded.

Mike Mussina left after Mark Bellhorn's leadoff double in the seventh, but Tanyon Sturtze and Gordon combined to get out of trouble.


Rivera, who entered with runners at first and third and no outs, blew a save for only the fifth time in 37 postseason chances -- but the second time in as many games and the third time in 13 days.

"It was a tough one today, but it was a great one," Rivera said. "It was a great game."

The Yankees missed a chance to take the lead in the ninth when Tony Clark's two-out drive to right hopped over the low fence for a ground-rule double that left runners at second and third and Boston closer Keith Foulke, who had thrown 50 pitches in Game 4, got Miguel Cairo on a foul pop to end the threat.

Boston tried to change its perennially bad luck, with switch-hitter Varitek hitting right-handed against the right-handed Mussina and Millar trimming his billy-goat beard.

Mussina allowed Ortiz's RBI single in the first and a bases-loaded walk to Varitek, then pitched five shutout innings before six relievers followed. The Yankees sent Lieber home during the game to get rest for Tuesday.

"We were going to play until there was nobody left standing," Mussina said. "You've got starters going out there. You've got guys throwing three and four innings one day and throwing two or three again the next day."

Bernie Williams opened the second with his 21st postseason homer, a drive into the right-field seats that extended his record. Turns out, there was a lot left to play.

"This whole place was electric," Schilling said. "Every night, every game. I've never seen anything like it."


Notes: Yankees 1B John Olerud, on crutches Sunday after injuring a foot in Game 3, was walking Monday but was not available. ... The 1998 Braves against San Diego and 1999 Mets against Atlanta are the only other teams to force a sixth game after being down 3-0. ... It was the first time both teams used seven pitchers in a postseason game.

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