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A's suffer rare loss after leading through eight

8/15/2003

OAKLAND, Calif. (AP) -- Thanks to some late-inning heroics from
Manny Ramirez and Bill Mueller, the Boston Red Sox regained the
lead in the AL wild card race.

Ramirez hit a game-tying homer in the ninth and Mueller drove in
the go-ahead run in the 10th as the Red Sox beat the Oakland
Athletics 4-2 Thursday.

"The bats weren't working today, so that home run was exactly
what we needed," said Boston outfielder Johnny Damon, who was with
the A's the last time they lost a game after holding a lead
entering the ninth -- on Aug. 14, 2001 in Toronto.

"Manny put together a great at-bat, and that was a huge lift."

Mueller homered in the sixth, then put Boston ahead with a
sacrifice fly as the Red Sox salvaged a split of the four-game
series with two straight victories.

The A's failed to win after carrying a lead into the ninth for
the first time in 59 games this season -- and the first time in 185
games overall.

"All good things have to come to an end some time," Damon
said. "I'm just glad we were the recipients."

The Red Sox didn't get much time to enjoy two revitalizing
victories. They headed north after the game for another West Coast
showdown in a three-game series with the AL West-leading Seattle
Mariners.

Ramirez tied it with his 28th homer of the season on a 3-2 pitch
from A's closer Keith Foulke, who blew his fifth save in 34
chances. It was Ramirez's first career hit against Foulke in nine
at-bats.

Ramirez fouled off four two-strike pitches before driving the
ball 10 rows deep in the left-field stands.

"I couldn't get my fastball out far enough away from him,"
Foulke said. "Then I made a mistake, and he got it. I was wishing
for anything but a home run."

In the 10th, Gabe Kapler reached base on an infield single and
scored on Mueller's fly to center off Jim Mecir (2-2). Damon scored
an insurance run after a throwing error by Eric Chavez.

"We did a good job of hitting in the late innings," Boston
manager Grady Little said. "Mueller, all day long, had good
at-bats. I can't say enough about the guy. He's been terrific for
us all season."

Miguel Tejada drove in a pair of runs for the A's, who briefly
took the wild card lead with victories on Monday and Tuesday.

"The ninth changed the momentum with that homer," A's manager
Ken Macha said. "Ramirez had a great at-bat."

Byung-Hyun Kim (5-3) pitched two scoreless innings for the
victory.

The A's wasted plenty of chances to put away the victory. They
had runners on second and third with no outs in the eighth, but
reliever Alan Embree got three quick outs.

"I like it messy, but not that messy," Embree said. "That was
a little bit too stressful. I gave up hits to the first two
hitters. OK, bear down and see what happens."

Ted Lilly was the latest victim of lousy luck in Oakland's
starting rotation. He allowed three hits and struck out five over
six innings, allowing only Mueller's 15th homer.

Lilly again didn't get enough help from his teammates. The
left-hander has received the AL's third-lowest run support this
season.

"It just didn't work out for us," Lilly said. "Those two runs
just weren't enough."

Red Sox starter Tim Wakefield allowed five hits over six
innings, matching his season high with eight strikeouts while
walking four. In the third, Tejada swung and missed at a pitch that
Wakefield threw at 61 mph.

Chavez ended a Red Sox rally in the top of the seventh when he
snared Damian Jackson's line drive at third and then doubled off
Kapler at first base.

In the fifth, Tejada punched a two-out, two-run single that
scored Jose Guillen and Chavez.

Game notes
A's OF Eric Byrnes is batting .095 (9-for-95) in 28 games
since hitting for the cycle on June 29. ... Jackson, a Bay area
native, has played every position this season except pitcher and
catcher. ... Oakland Coliseum PA announcer Roy Steele announced
Lilly's balk in the fourth inning as a "natural balk." ... A's 1B
Scott Hatteberg broke an 0-for-12 streak with his double in second
inning. ... Mueller set a career high with his 60th RBI. He drove
in 59 with the Giants in 1998.