Ramirez, Millar homer to spark Red Sox to win


OAKLAND, Calif. (AP) -- Though Manny Ramirez's two-run homer off
Mark Mulder was a big factor in Boston's win, the slugger's
bases-loaded walk was even bigger.

Ramirez and Kevin Millar homered and drove in three runs apiece
as the Red Sox again pulled even with Oakland in the AL wild-card
race, beating Mulder and the Athletics 7-3 Wednesday night.

The Red Sox won the way they prefer -- with plenty of offense
from the majors' most prolific lineup. Ramirez entered the game in
an 8-for-43 slump, but he clubbed a two-run homer in the seventh to
chase Mulder (15-9), who lost at home for just the second time all

But Ramirez and his teammates tired out the A's dominant
left-hander in the third with a small-ball rally that included four
singles and Ramirez's gutsy two-out walk, which forced in Boston's
first run.

"If Manny doesn't show that patience and that discipline, the
whole series could have turned," said Millar, who followed Ramirez
with a two-run single. "That's the mark of a great hitter. He does
the little things and the big things, too."

Bill Mueller had a run-scoring single among his three hits as
the Red Sox won for just the second time in seven games. After
losing the first two games of the series, Boston matched Oakland's
69-51 record atop the wild-card standings.

"It'll rank up there as one of our bigger wins this season, and
doing it against a pitcher the quality of Mulder is even bigger,"
Boston manager Grady Little said.

Tim Hudson, Barry Zito and the A's bullpen shut down the Sox in
the previous two games, but Boston canceled Mulder's plans for his
16th victory.

The expected pitchers' duel between Mulder and Derek Lowe didn't
exactly materialize. Lowe (12-6) struggled through five innings,
allowing five hits and two walks, but stayed in just long enough to
get his first win in four starts.

The A's loaded the bases in the fifth on two walks and a hit,
but Lowe overcame a 3-0 count to strike out Erubiel Durazo -- and
then pumped his fist while looking into Oakland's dugout in a rare
display of positive emotion from the right-hander, who's been
criticized for negative body language at times.

"That's the biggest out I've got in a long time," Lowe said.
"The emotion is directed to nobody, but to get that out after
throwing three balls is something I'm proud of."

Mulder (15-9) lost consecutive starts for just the second time
this season, yielding nine hits, three walks and five earned runs
in 6 1-3 shaky innings.

"Every mistake I made, they hit hard," Mulder said. "I made
more than one or two mistakes ... I had an off night. All right,
move on to my next start. It's done with."

Jose Guillen homered for the A's, who lost for just the third
time in their last 14 home games.

Four Boston relievers pitched one inning apiece.

Millar followed Ramirez's seventh-inning blast with a solo homer
off reliever Chad Harville. It was Millar's 20th of the season,
matching his career high set with Florida in 2001.

Millar was 0-for-6 in the first two games of the series.

"I've never seen any of these (pitchers)," Millar said. "It's
a whole new experience. After Hudson (pitched a two-hitter on
Monday), I didn't know what I was going to do. I thought I was
going to retire."

In front of a noisy sellout crowd of 44,868, the A's took a 2-0
lead on Miguel Tejada's RBI single and Chris Singleton's sacrifice
fly in the second.

Damian Jackson, Johnny Damon and Mueller got consecutive one-out
singles for Boston in the third -- and after Nomar Garciaparra
struck out, Ramirez drew his bases-loaded walk.

It was just the third bases-loaded walk of Mulder's career.
Millar followed it with a single to center, putting Boston up 3-2.

Durazo had a horrific night, going 0-for-4 with three
strikeouts. Every one of his outs ended an inning, and he stranded
seven runners while extending his 7-for-40 slump.

"When we got him, we had high expectations," Oakland manager
Ken Macha said. "It's his first year in the league, and it's the
first time we've seen (Boston). I'm sure he'd like to be
contributing a little more."

Game notes
Oakland activated RHP Jim Mecir from the 15-day disabled
list and designated OF Adam Piatt for assignment. The move gives
the A's 12 pitchers. ... The Red Sox hit back-to-back homers for
the 10th time this season. ... The series ends on Thursday with Ted
Lilly pitching against Tim Wakefield. The teams meet again in
Boston for three games next week. ... Dave McCarty, acquired by the
Red Sox off waivers from Oakland last week, went 0-for-5. ... Scott
Williamson pitched an inning of relief for Boston, but he broke a
blood vessel on his pitching hand while stopping a grounder.