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Red Sox 11, Mariners 3

After Ramirez homers, the rest is easy for Sox

Email|Print|Single Page| Text size + By Gordon Edes
Globe Staff / June 8, 2008

One night's good sleep, and the dark circles, short tempers, and distracted brainpans of the night before were all a distant memory for the Red Sox.

It didn't hurt, of course, that Manny Ramírez was back in the lineup yesterday.

Ramírez hit his fifth home run in his last seven games and 504th of his career to jump-start the Sox, J.D. Drew continued his impression of Roy Hobbs or David Ortiz - take your pick - and Tim Wakefield won for the first time in a month as the Sox beat the Mariners, 11-3, one day after Seattle had beaten them by eight runs, matching Boston's worst defeat of the season.

Anyone looking for lingering hard feelings between Ramírez and Kevin Youkilis, the principals in a brief dugout scrap Thursday night, would have been disappointed to see Youkilis tapping Ramírez on the helmet after the slugger's first-inning home run gave the Sox a 2-0 lead.

See? Opposites can attract, especially when the hyper-intense Youkilis and beyond-laid-back Ramírez are committed to a common purpose.

The victory, Boston's seventh in nine games, kept the Sox ahead of Tampa Bay in the American League East, and put them in position to take this series from the Mariners, who had shut out the Sox in each of their two previous meetings.

"David is so important to what we do," manager Terry Francona said, "but it's really gratifying, and I think the players feel the same way, to do something when you don't have one of your big guns out there."

Helmet throwing? It didn't happen Thursday, Youkilis reiterated ("I don't think I threw anything, if you want to check the tape"), and although the occasional frustration will still inspire airborne headgear, no one should expect helmet-throwing to be part of their regular TV fare - unless it's added as a demonstration sport in the Beijing Olympics.

Drew, meanwhile, tripled ahead of Ramírez's home run in the first off Miguel Batista, hit his seventh home run of the season, off R.A. Dickey in the sixth, then added an RBI single in the eighth, when the Sox broke it open with five runs. Even Drew's outs were clashing cymbals, as he lined out twice. In his last seven games, Drew is batting .542 (13 for 24), and his seven home runs have been achieved in 52 games, after he required 113 games to achieve that number last season.

"Best day? Nice day," Drew said, as casually as he would if he'd just been asked about the weather, which was a sweltering 86 degrees at game time.

"I'm swinging the bat, hitting some balls hard. I don't think I've changed much. I'm not missing my pitches."

Which is allowing the Sox, of course, the luxury of not pining for Ortiz as much as they would be had they fallen into a paralyzing slump in the first week since he sustained a partial tear of the tendon sheath in his left wrist.

"I don't think I'm filling Ortiz's shoes," Drew said. "I just go out and do the things I do. Where I bat is up to Tito."

For now, he is hitting ahead of Ramírez, who is hot - his hitting streak reached 12 games, with a .391 (18 for 46) average, 6 home runs, 2 doubles, 19 RBIs, 12 runs, and 8 walks. His homer landed in the parking garage across Lansdowne Street, and actually snaked inside the garage.

At this rate, Ramírez can be expected to be walked with increasing frequency. He was walked three times in his last four plate appearances yesterday, once intentionally.

"Manny's getting locked in again," Seattle manager John McLaren said. "That's not good."

Not for the guys on the other side, who also had their hands full with Wakefield, who allowed just two runs on five hits and two walks in seven innings, striking out six. One of those whiffs came on a knuckleball to Kenji Johjima that Wakefield threw at a speed that would have stopped traffic in most rotaries.

Yes, Wakefield admitted, he threw that one slower than most, his version of an eephus. That, someone suggested, makes him a bad man.

"No," Wakefield said, "the bad man is over there" - gesturing to Ramírez's locker.

Wakefield has pitched well on occasion during his monthlong victory drought - in four of six starts since throwing eight scoreless innings in Detroit in a 5-0 win May 6, he has allowed three runs or fewer, and in each of his last three starts he has gone at least seven innings.

But he had nothing to show for it until yesterday, when the Sox whacked 13 hits and broke it open in a five-run eighth. Alex Cora, subbing for Dustin Pedroia at second, doubled in the go-ahead run in the fourth. Mike Lowell, who was supposed to have the day off, too, entered as a defensive replacement in the eighth and wound up hitting a two-run double.

So did Youkilis, though Lowell's entry into the game put him in position in the ninth to make an error that ended his streak of errorless games at first base at 238, a major league record. Youkilis broke for a grounder to the right side by Willie Bloomquist, then returned to the bag, but Cora's throw was upon him quickly, the ball glancing off his glove.

"Nothing big," Youkilis said. "I turned real quick. I didn't see it. I dropped it."

The game had another sidelight of milder interest - Dickey's entry in the fifth inning was only the third time in six years that Wakefield has faced a fellow knuckleballer. Last season, the White Sox used reliever Charlie Haeger in a game Wakefield pitched. Six years ago, it was Steve Sparks of the Tigers.

Johjima mishandled one of Dickey's knucklers with the bases loaded that allowed Boston's fifth run to score in the fifth.

Wakefield, meanwhile, set down a dozen in a row until a bloop hit by Johjima with one out in the seventh, and he was erased on a double play.

"I'm just staying back a little longer," Wakefield said. "With the early homer by Manny, it made it a little easier for us and, obviously, our offense exploded."

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