Originally created 10/04/04

Orioles edge Red Sox



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 a dire 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 Sunday.

Miguel Tejada lifted his major league-leading RBIs 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."

By game's end, Boston - the AL wild-card entrant - was unsure if it would face the Minnesota Twins or Anaheim Angels in the first round of the playoffs. Their opponent turned out to be Anaheim, but the Red Sox are ready for anyone.

"I don't think anybody wants to play us," said Kevin Millar, who left after going 2-for-2.

Since the Red Sox had already wrapped up a playoff berth entering the four-game series, Francona was intent upon merely making sure his players emerged without any nicks or bruises.

"That was goal No. 1, 2 and 3. We want to have everyone healthy," he said.

Tejada's third-inning sacrifice fly gave him 150 RBIs, a feat that has been accomplished 44 times by 24 different players. The shortstop received a rousing ovation from the crowd of 42,104 when he was removed from the game in the top of the sixth.

"I was happy to get 150," he said. "I thank God for putting me in the situation to do it."

With Tejada leading the way, 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.

Bruce Chen (2-1) pitched three innings of one-hit relief after replacing Rick Bauer, who allowed two runs in four innings. B.J. Ryan got four outs for his third save.

Baltimore took a 3-2 lead in the fifth with an unearned run off Scott Williamson (0-1). Bigbie reached on an infield hit, took second on a groundout, advanced on a passed ball by backup catcher Sandy Martinez and scored on a sacrifice fly by Newhan.

The Orioles got a run off Lowe in the second on successive singles by Javy Lopez, B.J. Surhoff and Jay Gibbons.

Afterward, Lowe said he would prefer to be used as a starter in the playoffs, but will serve in any capacity.

"They're not called the Derek Red Sox. This isn't about me," he said. "We're in the playoffs. I pitched twice out of the bullpen last year. I just look forward to contributing."

Tejada drove in an unearned run in the third against Terry Adams, but Boston tied it in the fourth. After a walk to David Ortiz and a single by Millar, Trot Nixon hit an RBI single and Johnny Damon drove in a run with a double - the 373rd of the season by the Red Sox, matching the major league record.

Notes: Baltimore won the season series 10-9, its first such triumph since 1996. Baltimore hadn't won 10 games against Boston since 1974.... In three appearances as a pitcher this season, McCarty allowed one run in 3 2-3 innings.