<
>

Boston sweeps, wins 9 of last 12

BOSTON (AP) -- Tim Wakefield ended Boston's successful homestand
with eight strong innings, sending the Red Sox on the road with a
boost of confidence.

The knuckleballer allowed two runs and five hits, helping Boston
move a season-high 15 games over .500 with a 6-4 win over the
Toronto Blue Jays on Wednesday night.

"We had a great homestand here and I think it's going to give
us some momentum going into this road trip," Wakefield said.

The Red Sox swept the three-game series against Toronto after
going 3-1 against Tampa Bay and 1-2 against the Chicago White Sox
for a 7-3 homestand. Boston improved to 67-52 overall.

After an off day, the Red Sox play three games at Chicago and
three at Toronto.

"This is what it's all about, the last six weeks of the
season," Kevin Millar said.

Millar and Bill Mueller each drove in two runs to help Boston
stay atop the AL wild-card standings and move within eight games of
the New York Yankees in the AL East. But the finale of the
homestand nearly slipped away when Keith Foulke allowed two runs in
the ninth while pitching for the third straight day.

"It's one of these things I need to help stretch me out,"
Foulke said. "It'll make me better in the long run."

Boston scored four runs in the first inning and two in the
fourth before Toronto made it 6-2 in the eighth and had the
go-ahead run at bat in the ninth.

The Blue Jays scored two runs on singles by pinch-hitter Orlando
Hudson, Gabe Gross, Kevin Cash and Alex Rios before Frank
Catalanotto ended the game with a fly ball that Johnny Damon caught
a few feet in front of the left-center field wall.

"I thought I hit it well enough," Catalanotto said. "That's
how things have been going for us lately."

The Blue Jays dropped a season-high 23 games under .500 (49-72)
by losing for the 13th time in 15 games.

"We've been in every game," Toronto manager John Gibbons said.
"Tonight we were a little bit out of it but we came back in the
end."

Wakefield (9-7) retired 13 consecutive batters during one
stretch and left after throwing 104 pitches. He allowed one walk
and struck out five.

"His ability to mix in his curveball for strikes was the key
today," catcher Doug Mirabelli said.

But on the eve of his last complete game six years ago, an 11-1
win against Kansas City, Wakefield failed to get another. Foulke,
the winner in Tuesday night's 5-4 victory, barely kept Boston
ahead.

The Red Sox gave Wakefield plenty of support early, going ahead
4-0 in the first and 6-1 in the fourth against Miguel Batista
(9-9), who is 1-4 in his last eight outings.

The Blue Jays scored in the third on Carlos Delgado's sacrifice
fly and in the eighth on a triple by Rios and a groundout by Vernon
Wells.

Wakefield put two runners on base in each of the first three
innings. But after Wells' one-out, ground-rule double in the third,
the knuckleballer retired 13 consecutive batters. The streak began
with Delgado's sacrifice fly that scored Catalanotto, who was hit
by a pitch.

Gross broke the string with a two-out single in the seventh
before Cash grounded out.

The Red Sox loaded the bases in the first on a single by Damon,
an error by third baseman Eric Hinske on Manny Ramirez's grounder
and a walk to David Ortiz.

Millar's double drove in two runs, Orlando Cabrera's groundout
scored another and Mueller's single sent home the fourth.

Boston made it 6-1 in the fourth, scoring two runs with no outs.
Cabrera singled and scored on Mueller's triple. Then Mirabelli
singled home Mueller.

Game notes
Millar extended his hitting streak to 10 games and is
14-for-32 during that span. ... Mirabelli has reached base in 19
consecutive starts. He has played in just 35 games as a backup to
catcher Jason Varitek. ... Toronto is 0-8 at Fenway Park since
winning Boston's home opener. ... The Blue Jays are 4-14 in August,
the most losses in the AL this month. ... Catalanotto is hitless in
his last 16 at-bats after going 0-for-4.