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Red Sox officially eliminated from playoff chase

9/25/2002

CHICAGO (AP) -- They've won more than 90 games and had what would be considered by most standards a stellar season. Still, the Boston Red Sox will miss the postseason.

Their slim hopes for a playoff spot were officially ended Wednesday night when the Chicago White Sox hit three homers in a 7-2 victory, eliminating Boston from the AL wild card chase.

"We tried to prolong it as long as we could,'' first-year manager Grady Little said.

"It was a situation where for this thing to happen, we had to win 10 in a row and they (the Anaheim Angels) had to lose eight in a row.

"It is possible, but it was definitely a long shot. But as long as you still have a pulse, you have hope.''

With an eye on the scoreboard at the Anaheim-Texas game, the Red Sox sent 21-game winner Derek Lowe out, but he gave up five runs and a pair of homers in seven innings.

"It's frustrating first from the team standpoint because it knocks out of the playoffs,'' Lowe said.

"You go out there and you're still in it, having it be a long
shot but you're still in if you can keep winning. Anytime you give
up five runs, you're not happy. It's not the way you want to end.''

Boston (91-67) needed to win its final five games and have
Anaheim lose its last five to set up a playoff for the wild card.
The Angels did lose, falling to the Rangers 4-3, but by then it was
too late for the Red Sox.

"It's probably going to be a long night, you try to think what we could have done to possibly get to the postseason,'' Red Sox outfielder Johnny Damon said.

"We had a good year, but unfortunately some teams had better years than we did.''

Lowe (21-8) gave up a single to Frank Thomas and a walk to Jeff Liefer in the fourth and Joe Crede hit the next pitch into the left-field bullpen for his 12th homer and a 4-0 lead.

Liefer hit a solo homer off Lowe in the seventh. Magglio Ordonez added a two-run homer, his 37th of the season off reliever Dustin Hermanson in the eighth.

Crede also had an RBI single in the second after Liefer's
double.

Called up from the minors July 30, Crede had three of the six
hits allowed in seven innings by Lowe, who'd won his three previous
starts.

"Derek had a great season. He got a couple of pitches up and we
paid the price. But that doesn't take away from the job he's done
for this club,'' Little said.

"The Red Sox were up against a really tough situation,''
Chicago manager Jerry Manuel said.

"With a five-game lead and five games to go, seldom does a team
lose in that fashion.''

In the fifth, Boston loaded the bases against Rocky Biddle (3-4)
with two singles and a walk but managed just one run when White Sox
shortstop Jose Valentin mishandled Shea Hillenbrand's bouncer up
the middle for an error. Biddle then got Nomar Garciaparra to line
to third to end the threat.

Biddle was pulled in the sixth after Manny Ramirez hit a leadoff
double. After an infield out, Ramirez scored on Brian Daubach's
hard grounder.

That was all the offense the Red Sox -- who had staved off
elimination for four straight games before Wednesday -- could
muster.

"Nobody is really satisfied with the overall outcome, but we are definitely satisfied with their effort and way they've gone about their business with their back to the wall for a couple of weeks,'' Little said.

Game notes
Ramirez, battling Kansas City's Mike Sweeney for the
batting title, went 2-for-4 to increase his average to .347. He has
an 11-game hitting streak. ...Cliff Floyd returned to Boston's
lineup Wednesday night after missing Tuesday's game with a strained
right ankle. "I'm trying to finish the season strong,'' Floyd
said. "We still have a chance. If we were out of it, I probably
would not be playing. ...'' The White Sox, playing well with no
pressure to win, are 21-9 since Aug. 24. ... The Red Sox had
planned to give Pedro Martinez and Lowe another start if they were
still in the running for the postseason, but now they won't pitch.
... Chicago's three homers gave it 216 for the season, tying a club
record set in 2000.