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Curtains for Sox

Schilling touched for slam in eighth as Blue Jays rally

TORONTO -- Nothing like riveting footage of police chases ending with one suspect's vehicle after another cartwheeling or fishtailing into mangled pieces of metal as a diversion from the pregame doldrums. Many of the Red Sox, trying to watch a televised game between the Braves and Reds, instead were relegated during a rain delay to witnessing a montage of crash scenes before they tried to wreck the Blue Jays along their collision course with the Yankees.

They might have been better off watching baseball. By the end of the night, the Sox were road kill as the Jays obliterated a 3-1 deficit by overrunning Curt Schilling for six runs in the seventh and eighth innings in a stunning 7-3 victory before 16,480 at SkyDome. Schilling's bleakest hour in his first month with the Sox unfolded amid a 3-3 deadlock with two outs in the eighth when Chris Gomez rocked him for a game-breaking grand slam.

"I had my chances and I didn't make pitches," Schilling said after his first loss with the Sox. "I had multiple opportunities in the seventh and again in the eighth, and I didn't get the job done."

Schilling was lifted only after he allowed eight of the last 11 batters he faced to reach base.

"I thought he was fine," manager Terry Francona said. "Maybe I was wrong. The results weren't very good."

The Sox did Schilling few favors by leaving 13 runners on base and batting .077 (1 for 13) with runners in scoring position.

"We didn't put our foot on their throat when we had our chance," Kevin Millar said.

In all, the Jays touched Schilling for a walk and 13 hits, one shy of his career high in a start, as he fired 123 pitches over 7 2/3 innings. His trouble began in earnest with two outs and the bases empty in the seventh inning when the Jays strung together four straight hits, a triple by Orlando Hudson and singles by Gomez, Howie Clark, and Frank Catalanotto, to produce two runs and force a 3-3 tie.

"I felt good and felt strong," Schilling said. "I'm disappointed. Taking a lead into the seventh inning, I expect to win. I had chances and didn't make pitches."

Schilling had thrown 104 pitches through seven innings when Francona decided to send him out in the eighth. Everyone in the bullpen was available except Keith Foulke and Alan Embree, whose offers to pitch if needed were declined by the manager.

"[Schilling] was strong," Francona said. "He was fine."

The eighth inning opened with Carlos Delgado and Eric Hinske sandwiching singles around a Josh Phelps strikeout. Schilling then retired Kevin Cash on a popup before the switch-hitting Hudson strode to the plate. Hudson entered the game batting .159 against lefties and .293 against righties in his career.

"We had [lefthander Mark] Malaska ready for Hudson," Francona said. "I just decided [Schilling] was going to go up until Clark. Hudson was kind of the key at-bat for me in the inning. Once we got to Hudson, [Schilling] was going to face Gomez."

Schilling just missed on a 3-and-2 pitch and walked Hudson, loading the bases with two outs. Francona said Schilling made a "quality" pitch on 3-and-2, reinforcing the manager's decision to stick with him. Then came Gomez, who whacked a hanging splitter on a 1-and-1 count over the left-field fence for his first career slam.

"I thought he was going to get him out and he didn't," said Francona, who summoned Malaska to face Clark.

Jason Varitek said Schilling, whose fastball was registering 96 miles per hour in the eighth inning, appeared strong enough to stay in the game.

"Curt's a very strong man and his ball was still coming out strong," Varitek said. "I'm certainly not going to do any second-guessing. I'd give him the ball over and over. He's one of our horses."

Varitek credited Schilling with keeping the Sox in the game. They left runners on base in every inning and stranded seven runners in scoring position. Mark Bellhorn had the roughest night, making outs to end four innings and stranding six runners.

"[Schilling] did a great job, but we weren't able to expand on our lead," Varitek said. "We hit some balls hard with runners in scoring position, but they didn't fall."

David Ortiz provided the bulk of the offense as he slugged a two-run homer in the first inning and scored the team's final run in the third on Varitek's single. But even though the Sox amassed 10 hits and seven walks -- Manny Ramirez reached base five times as he went 3 for 3 with a pair of walks -- they put Schilling in peril by racking up only the three runs.

The Sox had one of their best chances to fatten the lead in the sixth after Cesar Crespo tripled and Johnny Damon walked with one out. But Bill Mueller fanned and Ortiz smoked a line drive directly at Clark in right field.

"I was trying to pick up Bill, but I hit it right at [Clark]," Ortiz said. "There's nothing you can do about that."

Still, it was not a good sign.

"The first couple of games we kind of got away with it," Francona said of the relatively low run production. "Tonight, we had chances and we just couldn't put across runs to separate us. You hope it doesn't come back and bite you, but it kind of did."

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