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They all relish a laugher

On a night when the tension was as palpable as it has ever been this season at Fenway Park, what with Pedro Martinez home sick and not on the mound for last night's turn against the Oakland A's, the Red Sox were in dire need of a pick-me-up.

They got more than a few in last night's 14-5 pummeling of the A's, from a pair of likely power sources in David Ortiz and Manny Ramirez, and a highly unlikely one in first baseman Kevin Millar.

Ortiz and Ramirez broke the tension of the finale of this three-game set by combining to go 4 for 7 with 6 RBIs, 6 runs, and a pair of timely home runs.

But Millar, who forever will be known in these parts as "The Rally Karaoke Guy," had the crowd of 34,844 rolling in the aisles when a dubbed video of him as an LA City College freshman lip-synching and gyrating to Bruce Springsteen's "Born in the USA," was offered as comic relief on the big board before the start of the sixth inning.

It was precisely what the Red Sox needed -- a little punch and a punchline -- to punctuate last night's critical victory that pulled them within a game of the A's in the American League wild-card race.

"We never quit," Millar said. "It's a grind and we don't make it easy on ourselves, but we never quit. We play hard and we just got to take the good with the bad and get out of those valleys as quick as possible."

Ortiz helped do just that with his first-inning homer, a three-run blast into the visitors' bullpen that erased a 1-0 deficit. Ortiz's blast, his first since Aug. 7 against Anaheim, certainly had a contagious effect on Ramirez, who went 3 for 4 with a pair of RBI doubles and a mammoth leadoff homer in the third off A's starter Rich Harden. "Everybody knows Manny," Ortiz said. "When Manny can hit, he can get hot. Everybody knows he's going to hit and everybody knows he's going to score."

Asked if his homer helped jump-start Ramirez, who entered the game 1 for 8 on this homestand, Ortiz smiled and said, "I know that I started something, I know that."

As did Millar, whose "Rally Karaoke Guy" video may have been the start of something funny at Fenway. The video was first played as a prank during a team meeting before a game at Texas.

"When we played that video in Texas, we went out and scored something like 13 runs," Millar said, "So today everybody was like, `Hey, where's it at?' They got a hold of it and -- bam! -- all of a sudden we hit and score 14 runs. So look out. I'm in trouble."

When he finally emerged from the dugout to take the field after the Fenway premier of his funniest home video, Millar was greeted by a thunderous ovation. It was, as it turned out, the perfect pick-me-up on a night that demanded more than a few.

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