Red Sox keep slim playoff hopes alive

The Boston Red Sox aren’t done yet.
Johnny Damon scored the tie-breaking run on a wild pitch in the 15th inning as the Red Sx edged the Baltimore Orioles 5-4 last night to avoid elimination from the AL wild-card race.
One more Boston loss or one Anaheim win will bounce the Red Sox from playoff contention, but Boston didn’t look like a team going through the motions in sweeping the four-game series.
“We’re still alive,” Red Sox manager Grady Little said. “We know it’s a tough battle right at this point in time. But there’s a lot of pride in that room. They continue to play hard.”
With two outs in the 15th, Damon reached on a walk by Willis Roberts (5-4).
Damon then took third when Roberts threw wildly to first on a pickoff attempt, and scored the unearned run when Roberts uncorked a high fastball with a 1-1 count on Shea Hillenbrand.
The Red Sox—who earlier blew one-run leads in the ninth and 14th innings—made their final run stand up.
“A lot of people are going to say we’re out of it—and we might be,” Damon said. “But we might as well make a run out of it. It’s going to be a real late night, but I’m glad we pulled this one off.”
Jay Gibbons hit two solo homers for the Orioles and Jeff Conine connected in the 14th, but Baltimore still lost its sixth-straight game.
“We made a couple of errors that really cost us a chance to win,” Orioles manager Mike Hargrove said. “But I’m really proud of the way we battled tonight.”
Boston took a 4-3 lead in the 14th when pinch-runner Rickey Henderson scored on a single by Tony Clark following an error by Conine at first.
But Conine made amends by leading off the bottom half with a home run on the first pitch from Alan Embree (1-2).
Embree avoided further damage, and Wayne Gomes got three outs in the bottom of the 15th for his first save. He struck out Tony Batista with runners on first and second to end it.
Hillenbrand homered for the Red Sox, who earned their third four-game road sweep of the season. The other two came at Tampa Bay.
The Orioles have lost 26 of 30. Baltimore also has endured losing streaks of 10 and eight games during its month-long skid.
In the only other AL game yesterday, Tampa Bay nipped the N.Y. Yankees 3-2.

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