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Behind Lowe, Red Sox double-up Devil Rays

9/10/2002

ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. (AP) -- Derek Lowe never thought his 19th
win would come this way.

Lowe became the American League's second 19-game winner despite
being ejected, and the Boston Red Sox beat the Tampa Bay Devil Rays
6-3 Monday night.

Lowe (19-7) was leading 4-3 when he was ejected by plate umpire
Jerry Crawford after hitting Felix Escalona with his first pitch in
the seventh. Lowe also hit Escalona in the fifth inning, but no
warning was issued then.

''I was really surprised,'' Lowe said. ''We just took the lead
4-3. I was trying to throw a pitch low and away ... obviously it
missed by a long way.''

Red Sox manager Grady Little said Crawford told him that he
thought Lowe threw intentionally at Escalona.

''His judgment was wrong that time,'' Little said. ''We have one
of the best pitchers in the league, who's got a shot to win the Cy
Young. Got a chance to win 20 games. Sometimes he just gets out of
whack.''

Tampa Bay manager Hal McRae and Escalona agreed.

''There was no reason for him to throw at him ... he's hitting
.200,'' McRae said. ''The league seems to make more out of incidents
with the Red Sox than we do.''

The umpires did talk about an alert from the commissioner's
office before the game. The two teams have had several games in the
past where players were thrown out following hit batters.

Crawford declined comment about the ejection. He indicated he
would address the matter Tuesday after filing his report.

Lowe gave up three runs and five hits in six-plus innings.
Ugueth Urbina pitched a perfect ninth for his 32nd save, striking
out two.

''I got a better result than I should have,'' Lowe said. ''I
didn't pitch very well.''

Manny Ramirez hit a tiebreaking homer, a solo shot in the
seventh off Tanyon Sturtze (3-16) that put Boston ahead 4-3.
Ramirez has six homers and 18 RBI against Tampa Bay this season
and 27 homers overall.

Ramirez was almost taken out of the game four innings earlier.
He hit a check-swing grounder back to Sturtze in the third, and
immediately headed toward the dugout.

''He knew he was wrong,'' Little said. ''He apologized to every
player in that dugout. After he went around and apologized, it hard
to do that (take him out).''

''It takes man to admit he's wrong,'' Boston's Jason Varitek
added. ''I was very proud of him.''

Varitek and Trot Nixon hit consecutive homers in the eighth to
put Boston ahead 6-3. All three homers were off Sturtze, who gave
up a team-record 14 hits.

Boston trails the AL East-leading New York Yankees by nine
games. The Red Sox started the day 8½ games behind the Anaheim
Angels -- who played later Monday -- in the wild-card race.

Sturtze, whose 16 losses are the most in the AL and a Devil
Rays' record, pitched 7 2/3 innings. Randy Winn drove in three runs
for Tampa Bay.

''It just seems like something always ends up happening,''
Sturtze said. ''I make a bad pitch to lose the game.''

Ramirez hit an RBI single in the first, and Brian Daubach
doubled in the second and scored on catcher John Flaherty's two-out
throwing error, which came when he threw to first after Rey Sanchez
struck out on a pitch in the dirt.

Winn hit an RBI grounder in the third, and Nixon made it 3-1
with a sacrifice fly in the fourth. The inning ended when Johnny
Damon -- who entered as third-toughest to double up in the majors --
hit into just his fourth double play this season.

Sturtze started a 1-2-5 double play in the fifth. With the
bases-loaded and no outs, he had Cliff Floyd's liner go off his
glove. Sturtze picked up the ball in front of the mound and threw
home to retire Lou Merloni. Nomar Garciaparra, who headed back
toward second when it looked like Sturtze might catch the ball, was
thrown out at third.

Winn tied with a two-run triple in the bottom half.

Game notes
Red Sox RHP Pedro Martinez (left hip-groin) felt fine after
a 28-pitch bullpen session and is scheduled to start Wednesday. ...
Merloni, who started at third, was 10-for-19 with two homers
against Sturtze coming in. He went 2-for-4 against him. ... Huff
doubled in the eighth to extend his hitting streak to 16-games.