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Lowell's bat, glove help Red Sox hold on, sweep O's

BOSTON (AP) -- Mike Lowell started off the Red Sox with a grand
slam and finished off the Orioles with an outstanding defensive
play.

The third baseman backhanded Melvin Mora's sharp grounder with
the bases loaded and threw to first baseman Kevin Youkilis for the
final out, bailing out struggling closer Jonathan Papelbon and
preserving Boston's 11-9 win over Baltimore on Sunday.

"I felt good once I caught it because that was the hardest
part," Lowell said. "I was glad Youk squeezed it because the
inning was a pain."

The ninth began with the Red Sox leading 11-7 and ended with
them one game off the AL East lead held by New York. The Yankees
visit Fenway Park for a five-game series, starting with a day-night
doubleheader Friday.

The Red Sox are 11-1 this season against Baltimore. Boston swept
the series following a road trip in which it lost the last five
games.

"We just swept the Orioles. How can I have a bad taste in my
mouth?" Papelbon said. "It's just one of those games where you
have to keep grinding and just find a way to get through it."

Boston's Manny Ramirez went 0-for-3, including a liner that
shortstop Miguel Tejada dove to catch, and had his hitting streak
end at 27 games. He might've been credited with a single on a
grounder to pitcher Todd Williams but jogged down the line and was
safe when Williams made a wild throw for an error.

"He asked me, `If I ran do you think they'd give me a hit on
that?" Lowell said. "I said, `I don't know. You didn't run, so
don't worry about it."

Lowell's first grand slam of the season gave Boston a 4-1 lead
in the first, but the Orioles kept coming back. Papelbon, who had
blown his two previous save opportunities, got his 31st save in 36
chances after the Orioles scored twice in the ninth, on an error by
shortstop Alex Cora and a bases-loaded walk to Brian Roberts.

Then Lowell stabbed Mora's sharp grounder.

"Great play by Mike Lowell," said former Boston first baseman
Kevin Millar, who hit one of Baltimore's three homers. "That play
was a tough play down the line and he made it look easy. It was a
couple inches away from making it a game."

Jon Lester (6-2) allowed four runs in five innings and won for
the first time in five starts.

Daniel Cabrera (5-8) gave up seven runs in four innings and is
1-1 since being recalled from Triple-A Ottawa last Tuesday.

"He was a little tentative," Baltimore manager Sam Perlozzo
said. "I don't think his velocity ever reached to where it usually
is."

Lowell's fifth career slam was the major-league high 10th
allowed by the Orioles this season. They gave up 28 runs in the
series.

"I think that pretty much summarizes it," Perlozzo said.

Youkilis' three-run homer put Boston ahead 10-6 in the seventh,
and Doug Mirabelli hit his sixth of the season and third in three
games in the eighth.

"Doug's home run might be overlooked, but it was big," Boston
manager Terry Francona said. "We desperately needed to win these
three games."

David Ortiz, topping the majors in RBI and tied for the home
run lead, sat out his second game of the season to rest before a
three-game series against AL Central-leading Detroit and the big
set with the Yankees.

Corey Patterson, Millar and Roberts homered for Baltimore.

The Orioles led 1-0 in the first on a sacrifice fly by Tejada
after Roberts doubled and stole third. The Red Sox struck for four
runs in the bottom half when Lowell homered after Mark Loretta
walked, Youkilis doubled and Ramirez walked.

Baltimore tied it at 4 in the second. Ramon Hernandez led off
with a walk and scored on Patterson's 12th homer. Nick Markakis
then doubled and scored on Mora's single.

The Red Sox went ahead 7-4 with three runs in the fourth when
they loaded the bases on a single by Wily Mo Pena, a walk to Lowell
and a bunt single by Cora. One run scored on Gabe Kapler's
groundout, another on Cabrera's wild pitch and a third on Coco
Crisp's single.

Kyle Snyder replaced Lester to start the sixth and, on his first
pitch, gave up Millar's ninth homer. Two batters later, Roberts hit
his fourth to make it 7-6.

Youkilis gave the Red Sox a cushion with his homer off Williams
after Crisp walked and Loretta was hit by a pitch. Mora's RBI
single made it 10-7 in the eighth.<

"The whole game was a grind," Youkilis said.

Game notes
Ramirez's hitting streak was the second-longest in the
majors this year behind Chase Utley's 35-game streak for
Philadelphia. It was Boston's longest since Johnny Damon hit safely
in 29 consecutive games last year. ... The Red Sox signed RHP Bryan
Corey to a minor league contract with Triple-A Pawtucket. Boston
obtained him from Texas on July 30 and designated him for
assignment on Aug. 5. He then was granted free agency. ... Boston
is 15-1 against the Orioles beginning last Sept. 3 after going
14-18 against them before that.