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Walker's three-run dinger forces extra innings

9/24/2003

BOSTON (AP) -- Every win brings the Boston Red Sox closer to a playoff berth. This one was so thrilling, it might carry them
beyond that.

"The emotional high of the whole situation carries into
tomorrow," Todd Walker said Tuesday night after helping the Red
Sox rally from three runs down in their last at-bat to beat the
Baltimore Orioles 6-5.

"Because you do stuff like that, you believe that it's
possible," he said. "When that situation comes up again, you're
less likely to think you're out and you're going to lose. ... This
team doesn't give up, and you have seen that from Day One."

Walker hit a three-run homer on a 3-2 count with two outs in the
ninth to tie the game, and David Ortiz hit a solo shot in the 10th
to win it.

Although the Red Sox were eliminated from the AL East race when
the New York Yankees beat the Chicago White Sox 7-0 later Tuesday
night, Boston extended its lead in the wild-card hunt to 3½ games
over Seattle when the Mariners lost 2-1 in 11 innings at Anaheim.

Any combination of Boston victories or Seattle losses totaling
two will qualify the Red Sox for the postseason.

Thanks to Walker and Ortiz, they were left with plenty to smile
about.

"Everybody thought we were going to go away, give that game
away," Ortiz said. "It was a great feeling."

Byung-Hyun Kim (8-5) earned the win with a scoreless 10th. Ortiz
sent the fourth pitch from Kurt Ainsworth (0-1) into the new seats
above the Green Monster as the crowd erupted.

The Red Sox -- one strike from losing an inning earlier -- swarmed
around home plate to pounce on Ortiz as he crossed. The fans
cheered until he came out for a curtain call.

"You might see anything out there this time of the season,"
Boston manager Grady Little said. "And we were happier to be
involved in it than watching it, I can tell you that."

Luis Matos homered for the second consecutive game -- a three-run
shot in the second -- and Baltimore scored two more in the ninth to
extend its lead to 5-2.

But with closer Jorge Julio on and one out in the ninth,
pinch-hitter Jason Varitek singled and took second on a passed
ball. Johnny Damon bounced out to second base, then Nomar Garciaparra walked and took second uncontested.

One strike from defeat, Walker lined Julio's pitch into the
Baltimore bullpen to tie it.

"It's a game we had, and we let it get away from us," Orioles
manager Mike Hargrove said. "Any time it happens, it's
disappointing. ... It's not something you want to experience."

On Aug. 10, Julio's previous appearance in Boston, he walked the
bases loaded before striking out Garciaparra on a pitch in the dirt
to preserve Baltimore's victory. On Tuesday, he got Bill Mueller, the leading hitter in the American League, to line out with a
runner on third in the eighth to protect Baltimore's 3-2 lead.

The Orioles made it 5-2 when Brian Roberts doubled and scored on
Jay Gibbons' single. Larry Bigbie, who had been intentionally
walked, scored to make it 5-2 when right fielder Gabe Kapler
couldn't field the ball cleanly.

Game notes
Thunderstorms flooded parts of the field, the dugouts and
the runways to the clubhouses before the game. But the rain cleared
and the waters receded in time for the game to start on time. ... Roberts
started at shortstop for the first time. ... The attendance of
33,723 brought Boston's season total to 2,655,029. Advance sales
already bring the team to 2.7 million for the season. Boston is the
only team in the major leagues to have home attendance increase in
each of the last six seasons. ... Damon needs one stolen base to
have 30 in consecutive seasons. The only other Red Sox players to
steal 30 bases in back-to-back years were Tris Speaker (1909-10,
12-14) and Harry Hooper (1910-11). ... Garciaparra is batting just
.175 in September (14-for-80), dropping his average to .305 from
.323. ... Mueller was 0-for-4. He is batting .380 (19-for-46) in
his last 15 games. ... Each team had two errors for the second
consecutive game. ... Tim Wakefield allowed three runs and seven
hits, striking out four. ... Walker also doubled and had a
sacrifice fly. ... With their 93rd win, the Red Sox matched last
season's total. ... Boston has scored 932 runs this season --
the second most in franchise history.