After near brawl, Red Sox defuse Orioles, Cabrera

Red Sox 4, Orioles 0

BALTIMORE (AP) -- Many at the game will remember the sight of
both dugouts emptying, players charging in from the bullpen and a
livid Daniel Cabrera being restrained by his teammates and umpires.

Red Sox manager Terry Francona preferred to focus upon a
marvelous pitching performance by Jon Lester and another important
victory in Boston's march to the AL East title.

Lester allowed four hits in seven innings to win his third
straight start, and the Red Sox handed Cabrera his 15th loss of the
season, barely avoiding a brawl Friday night in a 4-0 victory over
the Baltimore Orioles.

Both teams converged around the mound and plate in the fourth
inning after Cabrera threw a fastball behind the ear of Dustin
Pedroia. The pitch came immediately after a balk produced a run to
put the Red Sox up 3-0.

"The ball slipped out of my hand," Cabrera said.

As plate umpire Mike DiMuro issued a warning to both teams, the
Red Sox collectively emerged from the dugout, led by Francona.
After being restrained by his teammates, Cabrera waved his arms at
the Red Sox, challenging them.

"They say bad [things]. That's something I don't like,"
Cabrera said.

"I don't think we escalated anything. I don't know. I've got my
hands full trying to de-escalate," Francona said. "We're in the
middle of a pennant race here. We've got more important things to
worry about. You can ask them. It wasn't the focal point of our
night; the focal point was the win."

The Orioles haven't done much winning lately, so much of the
post-game comments focused on the fracas.

"I think he lost his cool," Baltimore manager Dave Trembley
said. "I can tell you very honestly it's going to be addressed.
I'm just glad Pedroia didn't get hurt. He didn't do anything."

Boston's Mike Lowell said: "Guys throw as hard as he does,
you've got to be careful. If he hits [Pedroia] in the head, he
could split him in two. It's not our fault he balked the run in."

Cabrera's uncontrolled rage caused tempers to escalate. The
Orioles charged from their dugout while relievers from both teams
ran in from the bullpen, at least two of them scaling the 7-foot
wall. No punches were thrown, however, and Cabrera (9-15) and
Boston's Kevin Cash -- who wasn't even in the game -- were ejected
before order was finally restored.

Wally Bell, the crew chief, said, "The ejection occurred for
what Cabrera did during the incident after the pitch."

Lester (4-0), meanwhile, was outstanding in his eighth start
since returning to the majors following a bout with lymphoma. The
left-hander struck out four, walked two and allowed only one runner
past second base.

"As he gets removed from what he went through, and he's able to
take the mound and take his five days, his stuff is coming back and
his knowledge is getting better," Francona said. "That was good
stuff tonight."

Lester said, "It ranks up there. It felt pretty good.
Command-wise, it was a lot better this time. I just attacked

Not in the sense that Cabrera did, of course.

"What [Lester] did was exactly what he was supposed to do:
pitch his rear end off and win a game," Francona said. "That's
why we showed up."

Eight different players had one hit for the Red Sox, who have
won six of seven to move 30 games over .500 (86-56) for the first
time since 2004, the year they won the World Series.

Boston is 11-5 against Baltimore this season and 26-8 since the
start of the 2006 season.

Cabrera's outburst reflected the frustration the Orioles have
experienced over their toughest stretch of the season. Baltimore
has lost 15 of 17, and its 11-game skid at home is the team's
longest since coming from St. Louis before the 1954 season.

Baltimore had gone 133 games this season without being shut out
before Boston did it twice in seven days, beginning with the
no-hitter by Clay Buchholz on Saturday.

Cabrera allowed three runs, six hits and two walks in 3 2-3
innings, his shortest start in 54 games since April 7, 2006. The
right-hander's ejection was argued heatedly by Trembley, to no

Boston took a 2-0 lead in the second. Kevin Youkilis drew a
leadoff walk and J.D. Drew hit a ground-rule double before Jason
Varitek singled in a run and Coco Crisp hit a sacrifice fly.

Crisp singled and worked his way to third with two outs in the
fourth before Cabrera was called for a balk and threw his ill-fated
pitch to Pedroia.

Youkilis hit an RBI single in the seventh.

Game notes
Youkilis set an AL record with his 179th consecutive
errorless game at first base, breaking the mark held by Mike Hegan.
... The Orioles purchased the contract of RHP Victor Santos from
Cincinnati. He is expected to join the team Saturday. ...
Baltimore's Kevin Millar got four plate appearances to reach 475,
triggering the vesting option in his contract that assures him a
contract for 2008.