After the Phillies scored three times in the bottom of the eighth to take their third lead of the game, Jose Mesa (5-7) started the ninth in search of his 250th career save. The veteran reliever could not get the job done, allowing Boston to pull within 9-8 before being lifted with the bases loaded and one out. Larry Bowa called upon Turk Wendell, who has struggled lately, allowing nine runs in his previous five appearances. Wendell's struggles continued, as he walked in the tying run before serving up Nixon's seventh career grand slam.
After being acquired from the New York Mets prior to the July 2001 trade deadline, Wendell provided little relief down the stretch for the Phillies, going 0-2 and allowing 13 runs in 15 2/3 innings. He missed the entire 2002 campaign with a right elbow injury. Earlier in the season, Wendell was one of the more reliable fixtures out of the Phillies bullpen.
The second grand slam of the season by Nixon made a winner of Red Sox closer Byung-Hyun Kim (6-4), who yielded one hit in 1 2/3 scoreless innings.
The Phillies had jumped out to a 4-0 lead after two innings. A two-run single by Pat Burrell in the first, put the Phillies up 2-0. An inning later, Jimmy Rollins connected on a two-run homerun off starter Jeff Suppan as the Phillies looked like they would continue their roll that started over the weekend in New York.
Phillies starter Brett Myers ran into a wall in the third inning. With runners on first and third and nobody out, Nomar Garciaparra grounded out to bring home Boston's first run of the day, cutting the lead to 4-1. Singles by David Ortiz and Kevin Millar made it 4-2 and put runners on first and second with one out. Nixon the doubled to drive in another run and Bill Mueller grounded out to bring in the tying run before Myers got out of the inning. One inning later though, Myers found himself in trouble again and Nixon again delivered with an RBI single as the Red Sox went up 5-4.
Nick Punto pinch-hit for Myers in the bottom of the fourth and grounded out. Marlon Byrd walked and Jimmy Rollins followed with an infield single that Garciaparra threw away, putting runners on second and third with one out. The Phillies, who aren't known for getting clutch hits, got a two-run single from Bobby Abreu to reclaim the lead at 6-5.
Suppan lasted through the sixth inning and the Phillies bullpen pieced together three innings of shutout ball to keep the Phillies up 6-5 going to the eighth inning.
In the top of the eighth, Rheal Cormier, in his second inning of work, surrendered a two-run double to Ortiz as the Red Sox came from behind to take a 7-6 lead. Phillies fans were treated to another home team rally in the bottom of the inning. Pinch-hitter Ricky Ledee led off with a homerun off former Phillies pitcher Mike Timlin to tie the game at 7-7. The inning didn't stop there though as Byrd walked and was sacrificed to second by Rollins. The Sox then walked Abreu intentionally before Mike Lieberthal was hit by a pitch to load the bases for Jim Thome. Thome delivered a two-run single and the Phillies had moved out to a 9-7 lead. Little did they know that the Red Sox would roar back in the ninth to go ahead and that the Phillies offense would be shut down in their half of the ninth.
The loss coupled with a win by the Marlins dropped the Phillies one game behind Florida in the National League wild card race. The Marlins swept the Montreal Expos, who come to The Vet for a short two-game series starting Tuesday night. Javier Vazquez (12-8, 3.14) starts for the Expos and will be opposed by Amaury Telemaco (1-2, 4.50) in the series opener.