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An interesting Foulke tale

He worked outstanding eighth but then lost it in fateful ninth

NEW YORK -- When he went 1-0, with three saves, and a 0.64 ERA in 11 of Boston's 14 postseason games last season, including getting the final out of the clinching Game 4 of the World Series, Keith Foulke earned a "mulligan" for when things don't go so well.

But Foulke doesn't want it, thank you very much.

To Foulke, last year's postseason is ancient history, which is why allowing a walkoff homer to Derek Jeter in the ninth inning of yesterday's 4-3 Red Sox loss to the Yankees stung so much.

Foulke was asked to pitch a second inning by manager Terry Francona after the Sox tied the game, 3-3, on Jason Varitek's homer off Mariano Rivera in the top of the inning. Pitching more than one inning is usually no problem for Foulke, who excelled in those situations late last season. Seven of his 32 saves were more than one inning, and he had a two-inning save Aug. 16 vs. Toronto.

"Any time you go out there and blow a game, it's tough to swallow," Foulke said. "It doesn't matter if it's this game or the last game of the series. One of my keys has to be to keep the ball in the ballpark. When I give up home runs, bad things happen.

"It's real frustrating. We didn't play real well [Opening Night] and [yesterday] we went out there and put some runs up late in the game and kept us in the game, and I just throw it away. It's hard to walk into the clubhouse after that."

His teammates gave him a pat on the back and a "Go get 'em next time," baseball's version of a mulligan.

It wasn't like Rivera shined, either. Giving up Varitek's homer and blowing a save was bad as well. Foulke pitched six innings in the American League Championship Series last season against the Yankees, giving up one hit. If he was due for a bad game against the Pinstripers, he's probably glad it happened in the second game of the season.

Foulke had a rocking-chair eighth, retiring Bernie Williams on a fly to right, striking out Tino Martinez, and getting Tony Womack on a grounder to short, keeping the Yankees' lead at one run.

He watched Varitek's heroics, then popped onto the mound to face the top of the order.

He threw Jeter three balls, then pumped in two strikes, one of which Jeter thought he had taken for ball four.

On the fateful pitch, while it looked as if Foulke was trying to ride a fastball up to Jeter, Foulke said, "Not [at] 3-2. I was trying to make a pitch down in the zone on the outside half and see what he can do with it. The ball just kind of rode up in the zone. Didn't get it down far enough, and to Derek that's just the wrong pitch."

"I was really disappointed with my control, especially in that second inning," Foulke added. "To go out there and go 3-0 against him. In that situation, we [had] just battled back and tied the game up, and I have to go out there and pump the zones with strikes. It did not work out today."

Foulke might have lost, but he didn't lose his humor. Asked again what he threw to Jeter, he said, "Home run."

"Just a bad pitch to the wrong guy," he added. "That's what his strengths are. Ball up in the zone and out over the middle. It was one of those deals where he didn't miss it. I thought he kind of popped it up. But he popped it up a lot further than I thought he did. That's his power."

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