- The Washington Times - Saturday, October 9, 2004

BOSTON — The frat house full of fools will play for a pennant for the second year in a row.

David Ortiz’s 10th-inning homer gave the Boston Red Sox an 8-6 victory over the Anaheim Angels yesterday, completing a three-game sweep that sent them into the American League Championship Series.

The Red Sox have three days to sleep off their celebration while the hated New York Yankees play the Minnesota Twins for the right to meet Boston.

“We’ll need a few days after tonight,” said outfielder Johnny Damon, who proclaimed the team a band of “idiots” trying to rewrite the record book and ignore Boston’s miserable baseball history. “It could have been different, but now we get to relax for a couple of days.”

Damon got three hits, Ortiz had four and Boston rode starter Bronson Arroyo to a five-run lead after six innings. But Vladimir Guerrero hit a grand slam off Mike Timlin to tie it 6-all in the seventh and send the game to extra innings.

Derek Lowe, who was bounced from the playoff rotation after a horrible stretch run, got out of a first-and-third jam in the top of the 10th and earned the win. Losing pitcher Francisco Rodriguez gave up Damon’s leadoff single in the bottom half; two outs later, Angels manager Mike Scioscia brought in Game 1 starter Jarrod Washburn for the lefty-lefty matchup.

Ortiz hit the first pitch over the Green Monster to send the Fenway Park crowd — so quiet since Guerrero’s homer — into pandemonium. In the Boston clubhouse, with the lockers covered with plastic, a soaking of beer and champagne mixed with the smoke from victory cigars completed the frat house feel.

“There are a lot of guys in this clubhouse who thought, ‘Hey, this might be an easier ride than we thought,’” outfielder Gabe Kapler said. “But we have a lot of guys who are comfortable biting their nails.”

With the sweep — just the second in their postseason history — the Red Sox have three days off before starting the ALCS on the road Tuesday night. The Yankees took a 2-games-to-1 lead with an 8-4 win over the Twins as the series moved to Minneapolis for Game 3 last night.

“We want to get to the World Series,” Arroyo said. “Whichever way we have to.”

Last year’s Red Sox used the theme “Cowboy Up” in the regular season, before they went belly up in the playoffs against the Yankees. This week, Damon declared they were down on “Cowboy Up” and instead were just “idiots” with bad hair and slovenly uniforms who were out for fun on the field.

“We’re all idiots here,” Ortiz said. “We all have fun. We all hug, kiss, grab, whatever.”

Ortiz, Boston’s happy-go-lucky MVP candidate — one of two, with Ramirez, actually — could be chapter chairman. He doubled and scored when Boston took a 2-0 lead in the third, then doubled in a run in the fourth when Boston made it 5-1.

It was 6-1 in the seventh before Timlin walked Darin Erstad with the bases loaded. Guerrero, also a leading MVP candidate after propelling Anaheim to the AL West title, tied the game with a dramatic shot to right-center.

Rodriguez pitched two scoreless innings and struck out Ramirez for the second out in the 10th, but Scioscia went with Washburn, who allowed seven runs in 31/3 innings to take the loss in the series opener.

He was making his first relief appearance since 1999.

“Frankie was at a high pitch count. I think he was getting tired,” Scioscia said. “With a young arm like Frankie’s I think you want to err on the side of caution.”

Anaheim, which has lost seven consecutive games to Boston, failed to make a serious run at repeating its World Series title of 2002 despite a free-agent spending spree that brought Guerrero, Bartolo Colon, Kelvim Escobar and Jose Guillen.

Troy Glaus also homered for the Angels, who will get no sympathy from Boston, which has been hoping to repeat its magical year of 1918 ever since Babe Ruth was shipped south to the Yankees.

Should the Yankees advance, it would give the Red Sox a chance for revenge against the team that has won 26 World Series since Boston last won it all. The Yankees knocked the Red Sox out of the ALCS last year when Pedro Martinez couldn’t hold a three-run lead in the eighth inning of Game 7 and Aaron Boone homered in the 11th to send New York to the World Series.

Either the Yankees or Twins will have to face co-aces Schilling and Martinez in Games 1 and 2 of the ALCS. But maybe they should worry about Arroyo.

The 27-year-old Pittsburgh castoff pitched six innings of three-hit ball and was given a thunderous ovation from the sold-out crowd when he left after walking the leadoff batter with a 6-1 lead in the seventh.

Notes — Boston also swept Oakland in 1975 to reach the World Series before losing in seven games to Cincinnati. The Red Sox last clinched a playoff series at home in 1986, when they finished off the Angels to advance to the World Series; Boston lost to the New York Mets in seven games. … The Angels hadn’t been swept in a playoff series before, but it was the third time they lost three straight. Milwaukee won three in a row after falling behind 2-0 in the 1982 ALCS, and the Red Sox won three straight after falling behind 3-1 in the ‘86 ALCS. … Timlin had not allowed an earned run in the postseason since 2000, a span of 121/3 innings.

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