<
>

Fox walks in winning run in bottom of ninth

4/5/2003

BALTIMORE (AP) -- A pitching duel between Pedro Martinez and
Jason Johnson was ultimately decided by a couple of relievers who
couldn't find the plate.

Chad Fox walked Tony Batista with the bases loaded and one out
in the ninth inning, giving the Baltimore Orioles a 2-1 victory
over the Boston Red Sox on Saturday.

After the Red Sox rallied to tie it in the top of the ninth on a
bases-loaded walk, Baltimore took advantage of another poor showing
by the Boston bullpen to win it.

The defeat snapped a four-game winning streak for the Red Sox,
who scored 42 runs in their first five games. Baltimore had dropped
three straight after winning on opening day.

The victory was especially gratifying because Martinez was
outstanding, allowing just one run and four hits in eight innings.
He struck out six and walked none.

"We'll take it,'' Orioles manager Mike Hargrove said. "Anytime
you can win with Pedro on the mound you've got to feel good about
it, no matter how you do it.''

Johnson gave up one hit over 6 1-3 innings in his season debut,
but Boston's comeback denied his bid for the victory.

"I knew I had to be on top of my game, because Pedro usually
shuts people down,'' Johnson said. "Overall, I'm happy with the
way things turned out.''

After Martinez was lifted, B.J. Surhoff drew a one-out walk from
Fox and was replaced by pinch-runner Melvin Mora. Jeff Conine then
doubled and Jay Gibbons received an intentional walk to fill the
bases. Fox went to 3-0 on Batista, then got the count full before
throwing a pitch wide of the plate.

"It was pretty much of a self-destruction kind of deal,''
Boston manager Grady Little said. "You've got to come in the game
and throw the ball across the plate, and today (Fox) had a little
trouble doing that. The first walk led to the run, and that's the
story.''

The Boston bullpen twice blew three-run leads in its first two
games against Tampa Bay, and Friday night Ramiro Mendoza yielded four ninth-inning runs in an 8-7 victory.

"We're a little bit concerned and rightfully so,'' Little said,
"but we also have confidence that they'll get it turned around and
get headed in the right direction shortly.''

Fox, who has already blown a pair of save opportunities, has a
13.50 ERA over three appearances.

"I have two losses and I'll take responsibility for my
actions,'' he said. "I got beat and I'll take full blame for what
happened. I just didn't execute my job. I flat-out didn't get it
done.''

Neither did Orioles closer Jorge Julio, who was seeking his
first save since Aug. 15. Starting the ninth seeking to protect a
1-0 lead, Julio walked Manny Ramirez. Pinch-runner Damian Jackson
stole second and continued to third on an errant throw by catcher
Geronimo Gil.

After Jeremy Giambi drew a walk, Bill Mueller
struck out and
Kevin Millar walked to load the bases. Jason Varitek then struck
out, but Julio walked Johnny Damon to force in the tying run.

B.J. Ryan (2-0) then struck out pinch-hitter Shea Hillenbrand.

Martinez allowed only two baserunners before running into
trouble with one out in the sixth, when Jerry Hairston hit a 2-1
pitch into the gap in right-center for a triple.

With the infield drawn in, Gary Matthews hit a sharp grounder to
first. David Ortiz made the putout, but his relay home was not
quick enough to catch Hairston, who touched the outside corner of
the plate with his outstretched hand before Varitek could make the
tag.

It was the first earned run against Martinez, who has a 0.60 ERA
in two starts this season. But he remains winless, in part because
Johnson was just as effective.

"Jason was absolutely outstanding,'' Hargrove said. "He went
pitch for pitch with Pedro.''

Johnson was lifted after getting the first out in the seventh.
Buddy Groom struck out Giambi, but Mueller doubled and pinch-hitter
Millar was given an intentional walk. Groom then retired Varitek,
who was hitting .533, on a grounder to short.

Game notes
Ramirez extended his hitting streak over two seasons to 19
games with an infield single in the second, the lone hit off
Johnson. ... David Segui, activated from the disabled list on
Friday night, went 1-for-3 in his season debut with the Orioles.