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Swings sway it Red Sox' way

Eighth-inning homers produce a split of series

ANAHEIM, Calif. -- The shocks came, one after another on consecutive at-bats, and it is fair game to guess which registered higher on the Richter scale: Edgar Renteria's first home run since summer arrived, or David Ortiz's first bunt single since when, the beginning of time?

No, Big Papi assured one and all, after a 5-1 Red Sox win that gave Boston's traveling salvation show (the miracle came an inning later, with second baseman Tony Graffanino's juggling, behind-the-back catch) a split of this four-game series with the Angels, that he had indeed bunted once before, in a situation that urgently required some creativity on his part. Ortiz was playing in winter ball in the Dominican Republic, in his first professional season, the game was in extra innings, and he was due at a party. With a runner on second, Ortiz surprised pitcher Fred Rath, a friend in the Twins' system, by laying one down, and surprised him even more by beating it out.

''When he saw that I bunted," Ortiz said, ''he said, 'SOB, how do you do that to me? But the next guy hit a fly ball, we won the game, and I went to my party."

Ortiz's eighth-inning bunt against an overshifted Angels defense that had held him to one hit in 15 trips during this four-game series was followed by a two-run home run by Manny Ramirez, his 33d of the season. But the celebration in the Sox dugout actually had begun moments before when Renteria, who had not hit a home run since June 22 (199 at-bats ago), dropped a fly ball over the left-field fence for a three-run homer off righthander Paul Byrd that broke a scoreless tie.

''I thought it was kind of appropriate," manager Terry Francona said of Renteria's home run, ''because he'd hit so many balls well on this road trip, and to finally get enough of one to hit one out of here, obviously in a part of the game where we were dying for a hit, I thought that was great."

The once and (it is hoped) not the future closer, Curt Schilling, came on in the ninth to register the final three outs, but not before Graffanino's sleight of hand, in which his lunging backhanded attempt at Adam Kennedy's floater into short center field resulted in the ball bouncing off his glove, caroming off his arm, then remaining airborne long enough for him to reach behind and catch it on the second try.

''I had the sun all the way," Graffanino said. ''I was hoping Johnny [Damon] would call me off, but I didn't hear anything. I saw it, it hit my glove, and I just turned to pick it back up."

Where did that rate in degree of difficulty?

''It was a 10 all the way around, from execution to difficulty," Schilling said admiringly. ''That's huge. Those are game-turners right there."

Schilling, who had given up two singles and Steve Finley's run-scoring double before Graffanino's catch, now returns to the starting rotation -- he'll start Thursday night in Kansas City -- after 21 relief appearances. The Sox were winners in 16 of those 21 games.

''We won a lot of games, more than we lost, when I was down there and that was the goal," Schilling said. ''I went down there to try and help seal a leak and patch a hole, and I'd like to think I did."

But no one filled a need better yesterday than the rookie, Jonathan Papelbon, who has now made three starts with Wade Miller hurting, has no decisions yet to show for them, but can take satisfaction in knowing that the Sox have won all three times. Kid? Call him that if you must, since he's just 24 years old and only a couple of weeks removed from Double A. Catcher Jason Varitek won't, not after Papelbon held the Angels to five hits in 5 2/3 innings, four of them singles, and shut down the Angels' running game.

The Angels, who had stolen six bases in the first three games of the series, came up empty, Varitek throwing out speedy Chone Figgins in the third (''Tek's best transfer and throw all year," Francona said) and nailing Darin Erstad on a pitchout called by the dugout in the fourth.

''Tremendous, tremendous," Varitek said when asked about the importance of putting the brakes on the Halos, ''and it all had to do with [Papelbon]. I mean, he was composed out there. He held the ball, changed his looks. I mean, Doug [Mirabelli] and I, we both can throw, but if you don't [adjust against the Angels], they take advantage of things at the right time. It was very impressive that he could stay composed in a 0-0 game. I'm very impressed.

''He's not scared. This kid is going to help us. Period. I like him very much. I'm not going to call him kid."

Papelbon showed no fear of Angels slugger Vladi Guerrero, who drew his sixth intentional walk of the series in the first inning, then was moved off the plate by a high-and-tight 0-and-2 Papelbon fastball before whiffing in the fourth and bouncing into a fileder's choice in the sixth.

''I was trying to get him out of there, get him uncomfortable, try to put a little doubt in his mind," Papelbon said of coming inside to Guerrero. ''There was no way I was trying to hit him."

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