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D-Rays blow 3-run lead, Varitek hits monster shot

4/3/2003

ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. (AP) -- Give Pedro Martinez an assist on
Derek Lowe's latest win.

Lowe shrugged off a shaky start to pitch six innings in Boston's
7-5 victory over the Tampa Bay Devil Rays on Wednesday night,
settling down after Martinez helped him make an important
adjustment.

"I couldn't have started off probably any worse,'' the
right-hander said, referring to Tampa Bay's three-run first inning.
"It was mechanical more than anything. It had to do with my feet.

"I wasn't allowing myself to be consistent. Pedro came up and
watched my tape in between innings and said you're doing this
wrong. So I changed it.''

Jason Varitek hit a three-run homer and Lowe, a 21-game winner
last season, allowed five runs and six hits, walked two and struck
out three to improve to 6-2 against the Devil Rays.

"There are games that are going to be offensive wins, and
there's games that are going to be pitching wins,'' Lowe said.
"This obviously was an offensive win.

"I would have loved to pitch a lot better. But it's a win. It's
a team win. My name just happens to be next to it.''

Varitek homered off one of the catwalks that support the roof at
Tropicana Field, giving Boston a 7-3 lead in the fifth. The Red Sox
also scored three in the third when Kevin Millar and David Ortiz
had RBI doubles off loser Jim Parque.

Shea Hillenbrand had a run-scoring single in the third, giving
him five RBIs in three games.

Lowe, who no-hit the Devil Rays at Fenway Park last April 27,
walked two batters and gave up RBI singles to Rocco Baldelli and
Marlon Anderson in the first. The third run in the inning scored on
a wild pitch.

Aubrey Huff's two-run homer trimmed the lead to 7-5 in the
fifth.

"I think that was a first-game-of-the-season kind of thing for
Derek. That can happen with any pitcher where his best stuff will
come and go,'' Red Sox manager Grady Little said. "Sometimes you
won't have it to start a game and hopefully you'll be able to get
it before that night is over.

"He kept battling. He didn't quit. He gave up three runs in the
first, and then he held them right there and gave us a chance to
take the lead.''

The Devil Rays rallied from a three-run deficit to beat Boston
in Monday's season opener, then overcame another three-run deficit
to force the Red Sox to work 16 innings for a 9-8 victory Tuesday
night.

"We've played good. I've got no complaints,'' Tampa Bay manager
Lou Piniella said. "If we keep playing like this, we're going to
win a lot of ballgames.''

Varitek's homer struck a support beam about 120 feet above the
playing surface and was estimated to have traveled 428 feet.

Parque, the former Chicago White Sox left-hander making his
Devil Rays debut, allowed seven runs, seven hits and five walks in
five innings.

"That's a lot of walks for me,'' he said. "That's not me.''

Boston's bullpen blew three-run leads the previous two nights
against the Devil Rays but was not a problem this time. Mike Timlin
pitched two scoreless innings before Chad Fox worked the ninth to
earn his first save.

Fox retired Carl Crawford on a fly ball to left for the final
out. Two nights earlier, the Devil Rays' outfielder hit a
three-run, game-winning homer off him in the ninth.

"We're going to have our good days, we're going to have our bad
days,'' Fox said. "I'm just glad I got the job done.''

Game notes
Boston's Manny Ramirez has a 16-game hitting streak ...
Lowe threw 33 pitches in the first inning and just seven in the
second when he retired the side in order. ... With four years in
the majors, Parque is the second-most experienced pitcher on the
Devil Rays behind Friday's starter Steve Parris (six years). ...
Former Detroit 2B Damion Easley, released last week with $14.3
million still owed to him on his contract, signed with Tampa Bay.
He arrived in time for the game, but did not play. ... Tuesday
night's 16-inning game, won by Boston 9-8, was the Red Sox's
longest in innings since Aug. 25, 2001 when they lost to Texas 8-7
in 18 innings, a game that started Boston's spiral out of
contention.