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Peņa makes it grand finale

He lowers the boom as Sox dust Orioles

BALTIMORE -- So, Red Sox shortstop Julio Lugo was asked, for one day would he like to have Wily Mo Peña's body?

"No, I like my body," said Lugo, who gives away at least 100 pounds to a man who makes David Ortiz look like a welterweight.

OK, then, how about Peña's power?

"Oh, yeah, I'd love to have his power," Lugo said. "I'd love to have his power. He's amazing. That ball he hit, with the wind blowing in?"

Let Josh Beckett pick up the retelling of Peña's 430-foot grand slam, the one that made Beckett the majors' first five-game winner this season after a 5-2 victory over the Orioles last night.

"If the wind was blowing out," said Beckett, who joined Babe Ruth (1917) and Pedro Martínez (2000) as the only Sox pitchers to win five games in April, "I don't know where that ball would have ended up. Maybe Philly.

"I was very, very excited. It was nice. I felt I kept us in the game long enough, that was almost like a reward."

Ortiz hit a ninth-inning home run last summer off Chris Ray, the Orioles closer who surrendered Peña's slam right after intentionally walking Jason Varitek to load the bases in the eighth.

"It was long," Ortiz said of his home run, "but not like that." Ortiz let out a low chuckle. "Only Wily Mo could hit a ball that far, in this ballfield, wind blowing in like that. That's sick, dude."

What was sick, Lugo said, was that Peña called his shot. How's that for Dominican-style chutzpah after whiffing 12 times in his last six games?

"Before he got to the plate, he said, 'Watch, I'm going to get this guy right here,' " said Lugo. " 'Watch.' "

The watchword for Beckett was patience. Three times last night, he gave up a leadoff double. Brian Roberts doubled, stole third, and scored on an infield out in the first, Baltimore's first lead in 27 innings. Ramon Hernandez doubled to open the third and scored on Melvin Mora's two-out double. In each of those innings, the Orioles scored just once. The third time, when Mora doubled to open the sixth, he did not advance.

"That's a pretty big deal," said Beckett, who induced 15 ground ball outs (only three whiffs), did not walk a batter, and threw only 100 pitches in eight innings. "I'm always harping on pitches you have to make. Tonight, I made a large majority of them."

So many, in fact, that pitching coach John Farrell said he and Terry Francona discussed sending Beckett out for the ninth and a chance for a complete game (the Babe in 1917 had 35 of them. You think the game wasn't different then? He also gave up just two home runs in 326 1/3 innings ). Instead, they summoned Jonathan Papelbon, who like Beckett has a perfect record for the month except his streak includes last April, too (17 saves in 17 chances, seven this season).

"Had we scored in the ninth, " Farrell said, "we probably would have sent Josh back out. The eighth inning might have been his best inning of the night. Swing and miss on his changeup, he located his fastball well, and he was strong throughout his eight innings."

Beckett came into the game with the best run support in the majors. The Sox had scored 32 runs while he was in the game in his first four starts, an average of 11.68 runs per nine innings. In his last start against the Yankees, he was tagged for two runs in each of his first two innings, but by the end of the fourth, the Sox had seven runs on the board.

Last night, he had to wait until the sixth before the Sox offense kicked in against lefty Adam Loewen, who held them to one hit in the first five innings and induced Ortiz to tap back to the mound after he'd walked the bases loaded with two outs in the third.

The Orioles had runners in scoring position in six of Beckett's eight innings, but he did not break. The O's were just 1 for 14 with runners in scoring position, which is one way they've managed to lose 17 of 20 to the Sox since the start of the 2006 season.

The Sox had just one hit in eight chances with RISP, but that was Peña's slam deep into the left-center-field seats.

"These guys never surprise me," Beckett said of the Sox' capacity to score, especially late. "Tonight, it was Wily Mo."

For Sox fans, it should become less surprising that Beckett is reeling off wins. Hanley Ramírez may be hitting .366 in Florida, but with Beckett sitting at 5-0, the lamentations over that trade have quieted so far.

"Even with those leadoff doubles," Farrell said, "he didn't fall into a 'throw' mode, let his emotions get the best of him. He continued to pitch. Jason [Varitek] called a tremendous game, particularly in those situations. He used all of his pitches. Jason had a tremendous feel, but it was Josh's ability to execute those pitches and stay one pitch at a time."

And so, their equilibrium restored with two wins against their favorite whipping boys, the Sox head for the Bronx, where Daisuke meets Godzilla (Hideki Matsui) for the first time in the major leagues and the Yankees are reeling with six straight losses. Wily Mo? He'll probably be back on the bench, with Coco Crisp restored to center field.

But the Yanks should be aware that Matsuzaka is not the only Monster on the loose.