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Eager to get their mitts on Bordick

His defense is coveted here

With five days to go before the deadline to complete postseason rosters, the Red Sox are shopping for a complementary player or two who could contribute during the pennant chase both on the field and in the clubhouse. Notable among the pool of players on their wish list is Toronto infielder Mike Bordick.

So far, the Sox have tried unsuccessfully to acquire Bordick, 38, a former University of Maine star and a 15-year veteran of the majors who is considered one of the league's most dependable defensive infielders.

The Sox recognize the importance of defense, particularly in the postseason.

"We call him `Mr. Automatic,' " said Toronto general manager J.P. Ricciardi.

And why not? Bordick, who made only one error in 117 games last season for the Orioles, had committed only three errors in 75 games at shorstop, second base, and third for the Jays before committing one last night.

He started at shortstop and batted leadoff after taking a .282 average into the game. He was 1 for 5 with an RBI and three runs scored.

Bordick went to the postseason with the A's in 1990 and '92, the Orioles in '97, and the Mets in 2000. And Bordick has made no secret about how much he would love to play in Boston if the opportunity arose.

Yet the Sox have been unable to strike a deal with the Jays.

"We're not going to give him away," Ricciardi said. "We're trying to get better, not worse."

Curious inside job

Kevin Millar is the first to admit he ranks among the least likely players to hit an inside-the-park home run.

"Inside-the-parkers are weird because something's got to happen," Millar said. "Either a guy has to fall down or, for me, go into a coma."

The funny thing is, the one he hit in the ninth inning last night was the second of Millar's career. In fact, his first career homer, off Rick Aguilera of the Cubs, was an inside-the-park job at Wrigley Field. The ball eluded right fielder Sammy Sosa.

"Sosa lost it in the ivy," Millar said, "and the center fielder came and picked it up."

Millar's shot last night, to center field off Aquilino Lopez, eluded the Toronto defense as it caromed off the bullpen and toward the Monster.

"I don't know what went on," he said. "I just kept running. [Third base coach Mike Cubbage] kept sending me and I said, `Oh, no.' I knew three guys had to fall down and collapse for him to be sending me around."

Millar's inside-the-parker was the first for the Sox since Darren Lewis's July 28, 1998, and the first at Fenway since Nomar Garciaparra's July 26, 1998.

Jones driven out

Todd Jones, who relieved Tim Wakefield in the fourth inning, threw only two pitches before he was knocked out of the game when a line drive by Vernon Wells struck him in the right forearm, causing a contusion. He was listed as day to day. With Jones down, the Sox summoned Jeff Suppan, who had been scheduled to share tonight's pitching load with John Burkett. For Suppan, it was his first relief appearance since 2000 with the Royals. The Sox needed to tap Jones and Suppan for long relief because Bronson Arroyo threw 45 pitches in completing the 8-1 victory for Pedro Martinez Monday. With Jones sidelined, the Sox appeared poised to activate another pitcher before tonight's game . . . In a crazy end to his 32-game errorless streak, Garciaparra was charged with one on a hotly disputed call for interfering with Eric Hinske rounding second base on Reed Johnson's single to right field in the second inning. Garciaparra waged one of his most animated protests of the season, with help from manager Grady Little, to no avail. The call especially piqued the Sox because Garciaparra had thrown Hinske out at the plate before the ruling negated the out and awarded Hinske the run. That ended a five-game errorless streak for the Sox. "I'm still not satisfied with that call," Little said. "I think there's a possibility we saw a little creative umpiring there. I'm not sure." . . . Martinez, who pitched six innings Monday four days after he was briefly hospitalized with severe throat inflammation, was said to have consumed only fluids during his illness before he faced the Mariners. He was said to have regained his appetite yesterday and was feeling better in anticipation of his next start Saturday against the Yankees . . . Frank Catalanotto's two-run blast off Wakefield in the third was the first homer surrendered by the Sox in 52 innings since last Wednesday . . . The Sox turned a season-high four double plays . . . Little and his wife, Debi, welcomed the birth of their second grandchild, Luke, who was delivered Monday in Charlotte, N.C. In addition to Luke, the Littles have a 4-year-old grandson, Braden. Their son, Eric, lives in their home state of North Carolina . . . Jason Estrada of Providence, the US super heavyweight boxer who the gold medal at the Pan Am Games and is the favorite to win the weight class next year in Athens, tossed a ceremonial first pitch.

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