Boston again left to ponder what could have been


BOSTON (AP) -- Manny Ramirez walked, hugged his pinch-runner,
waved his cap to the fans and left Fenway Park with his first AL
batting title.

And not a word about how he felt.

"Manny has never been an outspoken person,'' Pedro Martinez
said after Boston's 11-8 win over Tampa Bay on Sunday. "He's that
type of hitter. I'm not surprised and he's also very proud and very

He'd be happier if the Red Sox reached the playoffs. But despite
winning 93 games, they were eliminated from contention on

The Devil Rays finished at 55-106, the most losses in their
six-year history.

Ramirez walked with the bases loaded as a pinch-hitter in the
seventh, driving in Boston's last run of the season in his only
plate appearance Sunday. His average of .349 beat the .340 of Mike
Sweeney, who sat out Kansas City's final game with a bruised shin.

A Red Sox player won the batting championship for the third time
in four years and ninth in the last 22.

"He breaks a finger and it's tough to come back from that,''
said Nomar Garciaparra, the champ in 1999 and 2000. "He went out
there after being off still swinging the bat and still being hot.
Doing what he did, it's a tribute to him.''

Ramirez missed 39 games with a broken finger but ended the
season with a 13-game hitting streak, batting .468 in that stretch.
He drove in his 30th run in September with the walk.

Red Sox owner John Henry said he reacts like other fans when
Ramirez is at bat.

"When he came to the plate today with the bases loaded there
was electricity,'' Henry said.

Ramirez finished with 33 homers and 107 RBI and led the AL with
a .450 on-base percentage. Cleveland's Jim Thome was second at

The 93 wins were the third-most by the Red Sox in 24 years but
not enough to earn a playoff berth. Boston won 95 games in 1986,
when it lost the World Series, and 94 in 1999, when it lost in the
AL championship series. It last won the World Series in 1918.

"Going through the season, we had a lot of success,'' Boston
manager Grady Little said, "but still, we win 93 games and we're

The Red Sox set a home attendance record of 2,650,063, breaking
the old mark of 2,625,333 set last year. Sunday's announced crowd
was 32,194, the 62nd sellout at Fenway Park this season.

Ramirez's walk as a pinch-hitter for Cliff Floyd capped a
two-run inning that Jason Varitek began with his 10th homer of the
season. Brian Daubach then singled, Lou Merloni reached first on an
error and Benny Agbayani singled to load the bases.

After Freddy Sanchez struck out for the second out, Ramirez
walked on a 3-2 pitch from Travis Harper. Rickey Henderson came out
of the dugout to run for Ramirez and they embraced as their paths

Frank Castillo (6-15) pitched 2 2-3 innings of relief before
Ugueth Urbina got his 40th save in 45 chances.

Boston had taken a 9-8 lead with two runs in the sixth. Wilson
Alvarez (2-3) hit Shane Andrews with a pitch, walked Sanchez and
allowed a game-tying double to Floyd. Shane Hillenbrand's sacrifice
fly off Travis Harper put the Red Sox ahead.

The Devil Rays took the first lead of the game in the second on
Ben Grieve's RBI double. Boston went ahead 2-1 lead in the bottom
of the inning on doubles by Hillenbrand and Trot Nixon and an RBI
single by Varitek.

Tampa Bay starter Delvin James, who suffered a minor wound to
his left shoulder in a shooting incident at a North Carolina
restaurant Sept. 2, allowed six runs in 4 2-3 innings.

"I haven't pitched very much in the last few weeks because I
got shot,'' he said. "It's kind of hard to stay in pitching shape
without pitching.''

Tampa Bay made it 4-2 with a three-run fifth highlighted by
Randy Winn's 14th homer of the year, a two-run shot. He hit .298
this season.

"It's a very small consolation,'' he said. "When you're losing
a lot of games, it's not fun.''

Boston went ahead again in the bottom of the inning with five

Floyd's RBI grounder, Hillenbrand's single and Nixon's double
drove in one run each before Daubach's two-run double made it 7-4.

Then the Devil Rays went ahead with four runs in the sixth. They
scored on a one-run double by Brent Abernathy, a two-run double by
Damian Rolls and an RBI single by Carl Crawford.

Game notes
Tampa Bay pitchers broke the major league season record by
hitting 94 batters, one more than Boston hit last year. The Devil
Rays hit two batters Sunday, both by Alvarez. ... Garciaparra went
2-for-2 with a walk before Sanchez pinch-ran for him. Garciaparra
was out in the first trying to stretch a single to a double. His 56
doubles were one shy of Carlos Delgado for the sixth-most in an AL
season. ... Winn's 14 homers are four more than he had his entire
career before this season. ... The Red Sox had baseball's best road
record at 51-30 but finished 42-40 at home.