- The Washington Times - Monday, October 4, 2004

BALTIMORE — The Boston Red Sox got ready for the playoffs by emptying the bench in a meaningless regular-season finale against the Baltimore Orioles.

In the process, they might have found a pitcher in case of an emergency.

First baseman/outfielder Dave McCarty threw two innings of one-hit relief, but the Red Sox concluded the regular season by losing to the Baltimore Orioles 3-2 yesterday.

Miguel Tejada lifted his major league-leading RBI total to 150, and Brian Roberts hit his league-leading 50th double to help Baltimore finish up on a winning note.

“Those guys should be real proud of themselves,” Orioles rookie manager Lee Mazzilli said.

Red Sox manager Terry Francona substituted liberally throughout the game in order to rest his regulars for the postseason. Starter Derek Lowe, who will be used out of the bullpen in the first playoff series, gave up one run in two innings before being lifted.

Francona summoned McCarty to pitch the sixth and seventh innings. McCarty retired the first five batters before Roberts hit his team-record 50th double, but the left-hander worked out of the jam by striking out David Newhan.

McCarty also struck out Rafael Palmeiro and Larry Bigbie.

“I knew coming into the weekend series that we might be a little short of pitching with the doubleheader [on Saturday],” McCarty said. “We didn’t want to burn anybody out going into the playoffs. It’s something we worked at all year, so I was ready for it.”

His finest moment was striking out Palmeiro, a member of the 500-home run club and owner of 2,922 hits.

“It’s a thrill striking anybody out,” McCarty said, “but somebody of that caliber, yeah.”

The Orioles (78-84) won seven more games than last season and four more than in any year since finishing with an identical record in 1999.

Note — The Orioles announced late Saturday that Mazzilli would return for a second season.

“I’m under contract for next season, and hopefully two more years as well,” Mazzilli said before yesterday’s finale. “We have a mission that we’re set on doing, and we’re on that track. We made a lot of progress this year.”

Mazzilli signed a two-year contract in November as the replacement for Mike Hargrove. The deal, which earned him $450,000 this season and will pay him $500,000 next year, includes two option years.

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