Lowe, Wakefield combine on six-hit shutout


BOSTON (AP) -- Derek Lowe's first two starts were so bad that he
worried he would be skipped in the rotation when a rainout gave
Boston an extra off-day.

Instead, manager Grady Little sent Tim Wakefield to the bullpen and Lowe took his turn as scheduled.

The Red Sox needed both of them on Sunday.

Lowe and Wakefield combined on a six-hitter and Nomar
Garciaparra homered as Boston rebounded from a disastrous home
opener with a 2-0 victory over the Baltimore Orioles.

"I thank Grady for letting me pitch today,'' said Lowe, whose
ERA fell from 7.94 to 4.91. "To not give up any runs from where I
came from, I'm proud of the way I pitched.''

A day after Pedro Martinez gave up 10 runs in the worst start of
his career, Lowe (2-1) held Baltimore to two hits over the first
six innings before running into trouble in the seventh. He escaped,
thanks in part to an unassisted double play by Shea Hillenbrand,
who was playing first base instead of his usual third.

In all, Lowe gave up five hits and a walk while striking out
three. He said he threw twice as long as usual on Thursday to get
himself out of a funk in which he allowed 10 earned runs in 11 1/3
innings of his first two starts.

"It was important to get him out there as quickly as we could
after the last time,'' said Little, who added that he never
seriously considered skipping Lowe in the rotation. "We want to
get all our pitchers back out there as soon as possible, and having
Tim Wakefield on your staff enables you to do that.''

Wakefield pitched the last two innings for his first save and
just the second of the season for Boston's beleaguered bullpen. He
will be available in relief on Tuesday before starting again on Friday.

"Derek pitched such a great game, I didn't want to blow it for
him,'' Wakefield said.

Rodrigo Lopez (0-2) allowed two runs on five hits and a walk in
6 1/3 innings. He gave up Garciaparra's solo homer in the first and
then shut Boston down until a split fingernail forced him out in
the seventh.

"He threw the ball well enough to win,'' manager Mike Hargrove
said. "We just didn't score him any runs.''

Trot Nixon doubled to lead off the inning, then Bill Mueller
moved him to third with a groundout. Jason Varitek lined a single
off B.J. Ryan to score Nixon and make it 2-0.

Garciaparra's shot hit the light tower above the Green Monster
and bounced back onto the field, depriving a fan in the seats above
The Wall of catching the first homer hit into the new section.

Marty Cordova reached three times for Baltimore, with a single,
a walk and a hit by pitch.

Tony Batista singled to lead off the seventh for the Orioles.
Jay Gibbons lined one to first, but Hillenbrand dove to his right,
then got up to tag the base and double off the runner.

Cordova and B.J. Surhoff singled before Deivi Cruz grounded into
a fielder's choice to end the inning.

Baltimore also threatened in the ninth, putting runners on first
and second with nobody out. But Wakefield struck out Gibbons, got
Cordova to pop up foul to first base and retired Surhoff on a

Game notes
The Red Sox wore solid red uniform tops for the first time
in franchise history. ... Jerry Narron coached third base for
Boston while Mike Cubbage remained hospitalized after a diabetic
seizure on Saturday night. Cubbage is expected to return Tuesday.
... Manny Ramirez is 0-for-12 after hitting safely in 22
consecutive games dating back to last season. ... The Orioles had
won two in a row -- their longest streak since winning four straight
Aug. 20-23. ... David Segui had his second multihit game of the
season. ... Cordova has reached safely in 11 of 18 plate
appearances this season. ... It was the 100th victory for the group
that took over the Red Sox last spring, including manager Grady