- The Washington Times - Wednesday, September 24, 2003

BOSTON — Every win brings the Boston Red Sox closer to a playoff berth. This one was so thrilling, it might carry them beyond that.

“The emotional high of the whole situation carries into tomorrow,” Todd Walker said last night after helping the Red Sox rally from three runs down in their last at-bat to beat the Baltimore Orioles 6-5.

“Because you do stuff like that, you believe that it’s possible,” he said. “When that situation comes up again, you’re less likely to think you’re out and you’re going to lose. … This team doesn’t give up, and you have seen that from Day One.”

Walker hit a three-run homer on a 3-2 count with two outs in the ninth to tie the game, and David Ortiz hit a solo shot in the 10th to win it.

Although the Red Sox were eliminated from the AL East race when the New York Yankees beat the Chicago White Sox 7-0 later last night, Boston protected its lead in the wild-card hunt. Coming into the night, Red Sox led Seattle by 21/2 games.

And, thanks to Walker and Ortiz, they left the night with something to smile about, too.

“Everybody thought we were going to go away, give that game away,” Ortiz said. “It was a great feeling.”

Byung-Hyun Kim (8-5) earned the win with a scoreless 10th. Ortiz sent the fourth pitch from Kurt Ainsworth (0-1) into the new seats above the Green Monster as the crowd erupted.

The Red Sox — one strike from losing an inning earlier — swarmed around home plate to pounce on Ortiz as he crossed. The fans cheered until he came out for a curtain call.

“You might see anything out there this time of the season,” Boston manager Grady Little said. “And we were happier to be involved in it that watching it, I can tell you that.”

Luis Matos homered for the second consecutive game — a three-run shot in the second — and Baltimore scored two more in the ninth to extend its lead to 5-2.

But with closer Jorge Julio on and one out in the ninth, pinch-hitter Jason Varitek singled and took second on a passed ball. Johnny Damon bounced out to second base, then Nomar Garciaparra walked and took second uncontested.

One strike from defeat, Walker lined Julio’s pitch into the Baltimore bullpen to tie it.

“It’s a game we had, and we let it get away from us,” Orioles manager Mike Hargrove said. “Any time it happens it’s disappointing. … It’s not something you want to experience.”

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