Sox Use Late Fireworks To Edge A's, 6-5

The Red Sox didn't need J.D. Drew to get another dramatic homer from their right fielder.

Brandon Moss, who replaced an ailing Drew minutes before the first pitch, hit a solo homer—his first big league blast—off closer Huston Street to tie the game in the top of the ninth inning and Manny Ramirez delivered a two-run double in the 10th as the Sox stunned the Athletics, 6-5, in the season opener in front of a boisterous crowd of 44,628 at the Tokyo Dome.

Drew, who homered in both exhibition games at the Tokyo Dome Saturday and Sunday and finished with seven RBI in the two contests, was scratched when he suffered back spasms following batting practice. That opened the door for Moss to make just his second career start in right field.

"That was a big lift for our team," Terry Francona told reporters, referring to Moss' homer. "You can't really script that. It certainly played a big part in our win."

The Sox broke the tie with two outs in the 10th against Street. Julio Lugo reached on a leadoff infield single and went to second on Dustin Pedroia's sacrifice. Kevin Youkilis struck out, after which David Ortiz was intentionally walked. Ramirez crushed a 1-2 pitch to deep centerfield and immediately struck a home run pose. The ball bounced off the top of the wall, but the Athletics didn't have anyone covering second base and Lugo and Ortiz raced home before Ramirez slid in safely.

That was just the first "Manny Being Manny" moment by Ramirez, who finished with four RBI and won the player of the game award. That earned him a $10,000 check, which apparently will come in handy for a guy who will make $20 million this season.

"That's going to be some gas money," Ramirez told reporters. "I love it."

The bizarro world player of the game award would surely have gone to the Athletics' Emil Brown, who short-circuited what should have been a game-tying or game-winning rally in the bottom of the 10th against Jonathan Papelbon. With one out, Brown's double easily scored Daric Barton, who drew a leadoff walk.

But Brown was thrown out trying to extend the hit into a triple. That turned out to be quite costly when Bobby Crosby and Jack Hannahan followed with singles, one of which would have tied the game. Papelbon finally got out of the jam by retiring Kurt Suzuki on a grounder.

Ramirez' two-run double made a winner out of Japanese native Hideki Okajima, who allowed a walk in a scoreless ninth inning. Moss' homer spared Kyle Snyder the loss. Starter Daisuke Matsuzaka allowed two runs in the first inning and stranded three runners on in the second before he retired nine of the final 10 batters he faced. In five innings, he gave up two hits and five walks while striking out six.

"I didn't feel that anxious in the early part of the game, but I think I was a little bit overly cautious because of my tendency to start slow," Matsuzaka told reporters. "From my next start on, I'd like to be a little bit more assertive in the early innings."


Diehard managing editor Jerry Beach can be reached at diehardmag@yahoo.com. To receive a free issue of Diehard, call 888-501-5752.

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