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"It was just one of those series where we didn't swing the bats," Kevin Millar said. "We were flat offensively even though we battled both nights."
The Sox mustered their only run with two outs in the ninth inning when Jason Varitek drew a bases-loaded walk off closer Francisco Cordero. The Sox had loaded the bases on a single by Manny Ramirez and walks to Millar and Mark Bellhorn. But Cordero sealed his third save of the weekend by getting Cesar Crespo to fly out and complete Boston's misery.
Wakefield theorized the Sox were suffering from their grueling schedule, which required them to play a day-night doubleheader Thursday at Fenway before a late-night flight to Texas. Then they waited until nearly midnight Friday at The Ballpark before the game was postponed and folded into Saturday's twinighter.
"I think our schedule is really starting to wear on some of the guys here," Wakefield said. "These late arrivals can take a toll on guys. We have to battle through this."
Damon subscribed to the theory in part.
"That first night really did us in," he said. "We came in feeling really good, but we were an older bunch of guys playing two games in a row in back-to-back doubleheaders."
Still, Damon said, the Rangers "pitched great and played with confidence, and they definitely deserved to win."
Ramirez agreed, dismissing the notion that the schedule played a factor.
"You have to give those guys credit," he said. "They're doing everything right. They're pitching good and getting the hits at the right time."
Not the Sox. With a sweet chance to seize some early momentum, they stumbled in the second inning after they loaded the bases as Dickey sandwiched walks to Ramirez and Bellhorn around a one-out single by Millar. The Sox could have used a fast start to help erase the memory of Saturday's double loss. But Dickey got Doug Mirabelli to bounce into a 5-4-3 double play, ending the threat.
"Sometimes you hate to tip your hat because you really want to beat somebody," Francona said. "But he really pitched. He did exactly what you tell pitchers to do. We were at a point where we needed a break and we couldn't catch a break because he kept us off balance so well."
So, the Sox turned toward Cleveland, where Curt Schilling will try to stop the slide.
"We need to show up," Francona said, "and try to find a way to get back on track."
© Copyright 2004 Globe Newspaper Company.