Series: Game 1 of 4

Baltimore leads 1-0 (as of 9/20)

Game 1: Monday, September 20
Game 2: Tuesday, September 21
Game 3: Wednesday, September 22
in 12
Game 4: Thursday, September 23

Orioles 10

(70-78, 39-39 away)

Red Sox 6

(89-60, 51-24 home)

7:05 PM ET, September 20, 2004

Fenway Park, Boston, Massachusetts 

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BAL 000530001 9 8 2
BOS 000222000 6 10 1

W: J. Grimsley (5-6)

L: T. Wakefield (11-10)

S: J. Julio (22)

Red Sox remain 4.5 games back in the East

BOSTON (AP) -- Boston's strong rotation is struggling at the wrong time and hurting the team's slim chance of winning the AL East title.

Tim Wakefield became the third straight Red Sox starter to fail in a big game Monday night when the Baltimore Orioles won 9-6. Boston stayed 4½ games behind the division-leading New York Yankees, who lost 6-3 to Toronto.

The loss followed setbacks of 11-1 and 14-4 in New York the previous two days.

"Starting this series, I know how important it was for me," Wakefield said. "I'm disappointed that I let us down, very disappointed."

Boston's wild-card lead over Anaheim was cut to 4½ games when the Angels beat Seattle 5-2.

Wakefield, 0-3 in his last four starts, got six of the first 10 outs on strikeouts, then lost his control and gave up five runs in the fourth. Four scored on B.J. Surhoff's grand slam, and three more came in during the fifth, when Baltimore made it 8-2.

"He looked so crisp, so confident," Boston manager Terry Francona said. "It got away very quickly."

Surhoff saw the difference in the fourth.

"Even the first pitch he threw me for a strike wasn't one of his good ones," Surhoff said.

Against the Yankees, Derek Lowe allowed five runs in the first on Saturday, and Pedro Martinez allowed eight runs in five-plus innings Sunday. Boston's top five starters are still 70-44.

This just wasn't Wakefield's night. The Red Sox even allowed a run in the fifth when Melvin Mora, thinking the bases were loaded, trotted toward the plate when Rafael Palmeiro walked with runners at second and third.

After a long rundown, Mora scored when first baseman Kevin Millar, covering home, dropped Doug Mirabelli's low throw for an error.

"I'm mad at myself. I need to concentrate a little more," Mora said.

He did in the ninth when his 26th homer of the season gave Baltimore a 9-6 lead. Jorge Julio retired the Red Sox in order for his 22nd save in 25 opportunities.

The Red Sox stranded runners in scoring position in five of the last seven innings and fell to 4-8 against Baltimore.

"Luck? I don't know," Orioles manager Lee Mazzilli said of the dominance over a team Baltimore trails by 18½ games.

The Red Sox have their first three-game losing streak since dropping four straight from June 29 to July 2.

Jason Grimsley (5-6) got the win after starter Matt Riley was replaced with two outs in the fifth and runners at second and third. Todd Williams replaced Riley, but pitched poorly and Grimsley was given the win by the official scorer.

"I understand," Riley said of being removed one out short of qualifying for a win that would have snapped his nine-start winless streak. "He's the manager and he's got to do what's going to help this team win."

Williams retired the next batter.

Baltimore took a 5-0 lead in the fourth, loading the bases when Mora was hit by a pitch, Miguel Tejada singled and Palmeiro walked.

Javy Lopez walked, forcing in the game's first run, then Surhoff connected for the sixth grand slam of his career and sixth homer of the season.

Boston cut the deficit to 5-2 in the fourth on David Ortiz's 39th homer after Manny Ramirez reached on an error. The Orioles made it 8-2 in a wild fifth in which Wakefield (11-10) walked two before leaving with one out.

Brian Roberts hit a leadoff single, Mora walked and they pulled off a double steal. Tejada was walked intentionally, loading the bases. A passed ball by Mirabelli brought in Roberts and put runners at second and third.

Palmeiro walked, and Mora started trotting in from third. Mirabelli threw to third and, after several throws, he was at third and threw to Kevin Millar, who dropped the ball.

"Too many throws," shortstop Pokey Reese said. "You want two or three at the most. He did a good job staying in the rundown."

Lopez then singled in Tejada, making it 8-2.

The Red Sox closed to 8-4 in the fifth on Ramirez's bases-loaded double that ended an 0-for-14 slump. They added two runs in the sixth on Johnny Damon's single and Mark Bellhorn's groundout but stranded two runners for the second straight inning.

"We've just had a bad stretch in New York and against this team that plays us tough," Damon said. "We're fine. Everybody likes to get down on us. We know we'll be playoff bound."

Game notes

Boston SS Orlando Cabrera missed the game to be in Colombia, where his wife was scheduled to undergo surgery. He was expected back Wednesday for the third game of the four-game series. ... Wakefield matched season highs by allowing eight runs and five walks and striking out seven.

Copyright by STATS LLC and The Associated Press