Tuesday, October 19, 2004

BOSTON — After the game that seemed like it would never end, Boston’s season goes on.

David Ortiz’s RBI single on the 471st pitch of the game with two outs in the 14th inning last night capped a second straight amazing comeback and gave the Red Sox a 5-4 victory over the New York Yankees in the American League Championship Series.

The Red Sox, down to their last inning Sunday night, are one game away from climbing out of a 3-0 deficit and forcing an anything-can-happen Game7.

Game6 moves to New York tonight.

This time, Boston waited only until the eighth inning, when Ortiz’s home run and Jason Varitek’s sacrifice fly tied the score 4-4.

The next six innings were filled with double plays, three passed balls in one inning, two Red Sox runners thrown out trying to steal and 10 runners left on base.

When it was over, the teams had played back-to-back marathon games that totaled almost 11 hours — 5 hours, 2 minutes on Sunday and 5:49 yesterday — the longest by time in postseason history.

Boston was six outs from elimination last night before Ortiz’s leadoff homer off Tom Gordon and Jason Varitek’s sacrifice fly off Mariano Rivera in the two-run eighth.

Mike Timlin, Keith Foulke, Bronson Arroyo, Mike Myers, Alan Embree and winner Tim Wakefield combined for eight shutout innings after the Yankees scored four runs off starter Pedro Martinez.

Wakefield wiggled out of trouble in the 13th when Gary Sheffield struck out leading off but reached on a passed ball and two more passed balls by Varitek on Wakefield’s knuckler left runners on second and third.

But after the ball nearly got away from Varitek again, popping out of the catcher’s glove but staying near the plate, Wakefield struck out Ruben Sierra on a 70-mph knuckler, leaving the Yankees 1-for-13 with runners in scoring position.

Johnny Damon walked with one out in the 14th to start the winning rally, and Manny Ramirez walked with two outs. Ortiz then fouled off eight two-strike pitches, including one that just missed a home run down the right-field line, before dumping a soft single into center field.

Half of the Red Sox ran to greet Damon coming home; the others met Ortiz halfway to second base. Raising his arm in triumph, as he did the night before with his winning two-run homer in the 12th, he leaped for joy.

Now injured ace Curt Schilling is slated to start for the Red Sox in Game6 against Jon Lieber, but there could be a holdup: Rain is forecast for New York tonight.

None of the other 25 teams that fell behind 3-0 in a postseason series has come back to win — and only two pushed it to a sixth game.

But for the second straight night, the Yankees failed to finish off their old rivals.

Derek Jeter’s opposite-field, three-run double to right on Pedro Martinez’s 100th pitch had given New York a 4-2 lead in the sixth. It turned out to be the only hit for the Yankees in 13 at-bats with runners in scoring position.

Mike Mussina left after Mark Bellhorn’s leadoff double in the seventh, but Tanyon Sturtze and Gordon combined to get out of trouble.

Ortiz hit an opposite-field liner over the Green Monster leading off the eighth, Kevin Millar walked and Trot Nixon had a hit-and-run single that sent pinch-runner Dave Roberts to third.

Yankees manager Joe Torre brought in Rivera, who threw 40 pitches the previous night. He threw two balls to Varitek, whose sacrifice fly to center easily scored Roberts with the tying run.

Rivera blew a save for only the fifth time in 37 postseason chances — but the third time in 13 days.

Boston closer Keith Foulke, who had thrown 50 pitches in Game4, got Miguel Cairo on an inning-ending foul pop in the top half with runners on second and third — New York would have scored if Tony Clark’s two-out drive to right didn’t hop over the low fence for a ground-rule double.

Johnny Damon reached on a broken-bat single leading off the bottom half, beating Cairo’s throw from second. Damon, just 1-for-22 in the series before that hit, tried to steal second on the first pitch to Orlando Cabrera but was thrown out by catcher Jorge Posada.

Bronson Arroyo came in to start the 10th, and Boston retired the Yankees in order for the first time in the game. With fatigue setting in, sluggers took wild swings in an attempt to win it in one shot.

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