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Umpire: Game 1 had to be finished

The members of the groundscrew were the hardest-working people at Fenway on Saturday. Jim Rogash/Getty Images

BOSTON -- Well, at least they got one in, despite two rain delays. And they haven't given up on the second.

Good afternoon, Irene.

Scoring in each of the first five innings, the Red Sox put a 9-3 whipping on the Oakland Athletics in a game that almost miraculously was completed despite rain delays totaling three hours -- one of 45 minutes, the other of 2 hours and 15 minutes -- with Hurricane Irene hours away from arriving. The second game of Saturday's day-night doubleheader was still scheduled to be played, with the gates opening for Game 2 ticketholders even with two innings left in Game 1, which ran well beyond Game 2's scheduled 5 p.m. start.

Game 1 ended in a light rain at 6:08 p.m., six hours and six minutes after Lester threw the first pitch.

Umpiring crew chief Tim McClelland said the first game had to be completed before the second game began. He said he did not have the option of calling the first game in the seventh inning, even though the Sox had a split doubleheader in 2009 in which Game 1 was called early and then the second game was played in its entirety.

“That was an aberration,'' McClelland told a pool reporter. "I talked to Joe Torre in between games [during the delay] and he said that was an aberration. According to the rules, that can’t happen or shouldn’t happen. They didn’t want that. They wanted this game to finish.''

A game has to finish before you play a second game?

"Yes,'' McClelland said. "That’s what Joe told me.''

McClelland said he could not recall another time in which a second game was played despite the first game being shortened, as in 2009.

"I remember being somewhere else [in '09] and I saw that, and I thought, ‘That’s really bizarre.’ No, I’ve never heard that. If you can’t play the game you’re playing, how can you play another game?''

The chances of completing a second game?

"I don’t know,'' he said. "It changes every hour. That’s the problem we’ve got. [Head groundskeeper] Dave [Mellor] will come out and tell me, 'We’ve got a window of 45 minutes, and then he’d come out the next half inning and say, 'No, no, it’s 20 minutes.’ It’s just constantly changing. They said it’s going to be three hours where it was supposed to be fairly clear.

"We just played the last 30, 40 minutes [of Game 1] in a light rain. That wasn’t a sprinkle or drizzle. That was a light rain. So I’m assuming that’s what we’re going to have. We’re going to start at 6:50 and try. Infield’s terrible, everything. It’s no fun for anybody. ''

The Red Sox had lobbied for Game 1 to be stopped, as it had been on April 22, 2009, when Game 1 was called with the Sox ahead of Minnesota, 10-1, after seven innings. The Sox won the second game, 7-3.

“I know MLB ruled on it,'' Sox manager Terry Francona said. "We’ve done it the other way against Minnesota a couple of years ago. I don’t know if it’s a hard-and-fast rule or if it’s judgment. We just go where they tell us.”

Jon Lester gave up two runs, one earned, before his afternoon came to an abrupt halt with the first rain delay, which came at 2:24 p.m. as he was warming up for the seventh.

When play resumed, at 3:09 p.m., Dan Wheeler was on the mound. Both teams got their at-bats in the seventh before play was stopped again after Jason Varitek tapped out to the mound at 3:24 p.m. It was 5:37 when play resumed, with new arrival Michael Bowden doing the honors of closing it out.

While it was still dry, Sox bats were smoking, as they hit a home run and five doubles among their 13 hits. Jason Varitek hit a two-run home run into the Sox bullpen in the second, his ninth of the season, David Ortiz hit two doubles, and Jacoby Ellsbury, Marco Scutaro, and Adrian Gonzalez all hit one apiece.

The Sox did a number on a good young pitcher, Guillermo Moscoso, who had given up two runs or fewer in 10 of his previous starts. He lost his last start last Sunday in Oakland, 1-0, despite giving up just three hits in eight innings, one a home run by Jose Bautista.