It was a pitchers' duel involving two of the most storied franchises in baseball in one of the most hitter-friendly ballparks in America.
From the Dodgers' side, a big bully came along and spoiled it, not once but twice, as David Ortiz gave the Red Sox a 1-0 lead with a seventh-inning home run, then singled home Johnny Damon with the winning run in the ninth in a 2-1 game before 35,173 at Fenway Park.
Ortiz bailed out Manny Ramirez, whose two-out defensive miscue on pinch hitter Olmedo Saenz's wind-blown fly to left in the top of the ninth allowed Alex Cora to score all the way from first, ruining Keith Foulke's bid for his 13th save.
Instead, Foulke (2-0) got the win, leaving Derek Lowe with a no-decision despite pitching seven shutout innings.
"Manny picks us up a lot," said Ortiz, who swung and missed twice before sending lefthander Tom Martin's fastball down the right-field line. "It's about time we pick him up."
With the win in hand, Ortiz and Ramirez could afford to laugh about the misplay. In fact, Ramirez told Ortiz, "There goes my Gold Glove," which brought a roar from their teammates.
"I gave it my best," Ramirez said. "The wind was blowing hard. I just dropped it. I picked it up good off the bat. I dropped back at first and it kept coming in. I felt bad. But that's why you have teammates to pick you up like that."
Damon, who walked in the ninth and advanced to third when Mark Bellhorn extended his hitting streak to 10 games with a double to the corner in left, defended Ramirez. "There was crazy stuff going on," Damon said. "I looked up right before that and there were a whole bunch of birds going crazy because of a gust of wind. That ball just stopped and started going forward. I couldn't believe that ball. I told Manny he can't worry about that. That was a freak of nature."
Manager Terry Francona acknowledged, "That's about as close to tears as I've been in a long time. The great thing is the resiliency to come right back after being so close to shaking hands, and then go get a win. I was so proud of Derek [Lowe]. He was so good and we need him to be good."
Earlier, Ortiz, 7 for 9 in his last two games, delivered a solo shot off Dodgers starter Odalis Perez, who was superb, over the right-field fence for his 13th home run.
"Lefties aren't easy to hit," said Ortiz, who made two of them pay last night. "They come across from you. Lefties we have been facing this year have been throwing the ball inside. Before, you never get to see that much. I was out there trying to use my hands more with lefties because I have less of a chance when I use my body."
Perez, who allowed one run on five hits and struck out seven over eight innings, shrugged off the loss.
"I can't control that," he said. "My main thing is to go out there and do my job. That's all I can do. If [the hitters] don't do their job, there is nothing I can do. Sometimes it's like that. I pitch my game and don't let anything bother me. If I get some run support, perfect. If I don't get run support, I'm still going to be happy because I did my job."
Did Lowe turn the corner on a disappointing season with his performance?
"Who knows? I think you just go out there and keep the team in the game," he said. Asked whether he saw Ramirez's error, Lowe said, "You know, Manny's going to win us more games than he's going to lose."
Lowe completed seven innings for the first time since April 29, a 7-3 win over Tampa Bay. He did not experience the nasty blister problems that had hindered him in his last two starts. But he did encounter a few control problems, especially in the third when he walked two and allowed a single to Dave Roberts, loading the bases with two outs. But he struck out Shawn Green with a nasty sinker to escape the jam.
Lowe started the sixth by allowing back-to-back singles to Green and catcher Paul Lo Duca, but after Adrian Beltre forced Lo Duca at second, shortstop Pokey Reese fielded Juan Encarnacion's hard grounder, raced to second for one out, and fired to first to complete the double play.
Reese, starting in place of Nomar Garciaparra, who got the night off after playing two straight days, received an ovation as he ran off the field to chants of "Pokey! Pokey!"