The Sox entered the second quintile of the regular season, throwing ace Bronson Arroyo against the A's and won with a spectacular finish, a walk-off homerun by Kevin Millar.
Arroyo, undefeated since last August, had trouble finding the plate early, and made a questionable fielding play in the seventh allowing Bobby Kielty who had led off with a double to score on a chopper back to the mound. Arroyo couldn't hold the runner before throwing to Millar, who inadvertently also missed first base.
Arroyo surrendered one earned run in 6 2/3 innings, lowering his ERA to 2.91 before yielding to Alan Embree and Matt Mantei.
Hard-throwing righthander Octavio Dotel came in for the A's in the ninth, leading off by fanning Manny Ramirez with inside heat. David Ortiz then walked on a 3-2 pitch. Millar, a 'dead red' hitter, sat on an inside fastball and drilled a rising line drive into the Monster seats, clearing the wall by several feet.
Notes. Johnny Damon (.387) had three hits to continue his torrid pace. Manny Ramirez was back in the lineup after the previous night's beaning, but continues to struggle. Ramirez' OPS, normally a lusty 1.000 or more, was .913 going into the game. Mark Bellhorn continues to struggle, hitting only .228 with 28% of his at bats resulting in strikeouts. Kevin Youkilis has an identical percentage of 20.7% of his at bats yielding both strikeouts and walks.
Considering the major losses of Curt Schilling, David Wells, and various nicks throughout the lineup, the Sox 19-13 record through 32 games has been impressive. The Yankees meanwhile, are getting improved pitching, and trying to figure out how to get Jason Giambi (.195) back above the Mendoza line, considering some minor league time, that Giambi must approve.
Down on the Farm. Jon Papelbon (3-1) lowered his ERA to 2.02 at Portland, working 6 innings with 5 strikeouts, 1 walk, and 1 run, defeating New Hampshire 6-1. Hanley Ramirez had another triple and Stefan Bailie a homer and two RBI.
Chris Narveson got lit up for a touchdown at Scranton and the PawSox are trailing 13-3. Chip Ambres, coming in at .360/.435/.653 had another two hits as he campaigns for a callup in the event of injury or illness.