<
>

Nixon, Kapler homer to power Red Sox

9/3/2003

CHICAGO (AP) -- The Boston Red Sox managed just fine without
Manny Ramirez.

With Ramirez on the bench as a healthy scratch, substitute left
fielder Gabe Kapler hit a go-ahead, solo home run Tuesday to lift
the Red Sox to a 2-1 victory over the Chicago White Sox.

Trot Nixon also homered, and John Burkett finally got his 10th
win.

"Our team is a special group of guys. We face adversity,"
Burkett said. "Manny's one of our best players. But I think we
have confidence in every person on this roster, and Kap is a
hard-nosed guy giving his all out there and that's nice to see near
the playoffs."

The win was the ninth in the last 12 games for the Red Sox, who
are now four games AL East-leading New York Yankees and just a
half-game behind Seattle in the AL wild-card race.

Chicago's lead in the AL Central is now down to one game.

"At this time of the year, you can shoot yourself in the foot
or make it happen," Frank Thomas said. "Tonight, we shot
ourselves in the foot."

Not that the White Sox didn't have opportunities. Bartolo Colon
(12-12) was masterful, allowing just a walk and two hits in nine
innings. But those two hits were doozies, both home runs.

The White Sox stranded seven. They had the bases loaded in the
first inning and only came away with one run, and didn't get
anything when they had runners at the corners with one out in the
seventh.

"It's just a shame we didn't get that win for Bartolo," Paul
Konerko said. "We just didn't come through."

Though Ramirez was healthy enough to play DH, manager Grady
Little decided to sit him, obviously unhappy with the slugger's
recent antics. Ramirez missed the weekend series with the New York
Yankees with pharyngitis -- the same ailment that forced pitcher
Pedro Martinez to miss a start the previous week -- yet was spotted
out Saturday night.

Then when Little asked him to pinch-hit Monday, Ramirez said he
was still "too weak."

"I'm putting the team out there that I feel gives us the best
chance to win," Little said before the game.

And the Red Sox didn't need Ramirez.

Kapler was making just his 23rd start of the year, and he took
full advantage of it. His first-pitch homer off of Colon in the
sixth was the game-winner, and he also had a leaping catch that
robbed Paul Konerko of a home run in the fourth inning.

"Gabe Kapler, can't say enough about him," Burket said. "He's
a straight gamer out there, busting his butt, plus the game-winning
home run."

Burkett has been trying to get his 10th win since Aug. 12, going
0-2 in his last four starts. He wasn't his sharpest Tuesday,
hitting three batters, but he was still too much for the White Sox.

Burkett (10-7) scattered three hits and a run over six innings,
striking out four. Byung-Hyun Kim pitched the ninth for his 12th
save in 15 chances.

Burkett looked as if he might be in for a rough night in the
first inning, giving up a leadoff double to Roberto Alomar. Two
batters later, he plunked Frank Thomas in the shoulder.

He then walked Magglio Ordonez intentionally to give the Red Sox
a double-play opportunity at every base. But the move backfired
when Carl Everett hit a fly ball to shallow center. Second baseman
Todd Walker, center fielder Johnny Damon and Nixon, the right
fielder, all came in on the ball.

But no one called it, apparently, and it dropped between them,
allowing Alomar to score.

"We had some opportunities, and they made the right pitches,
they executed pitches when they had to," White Sox manager Jerry
Manuel said. "We just couldn't get it going."

Game notes
The victory put the Red Sox 22 games above .500, matching
their season best. ... Burkett also beat Colon when the Red Sox
were in Chicago in June. ... Burkett has 10 10-win seasons. ...
Brandon Lyon, activated from the disabled list Monday, made his
first appearance since July 20.