Clement carried off on stretcher after being hit in head by line drive

ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. -- The blistering line drive caromed
off the side of Matt Clement's head, knocking the Boston pitcher
off his feet and silencing the stunned crowd at Tropicana Field.

Frightened teammates gathered around the fallen player while
medical personnel attended to the All-Star right-hander, and were
relieved when they reached the mound to find him conscious, alert
and talking.

"For him to go down, especially in that type of fashion, that
shook everybody up. Both teams, and the fans," Red Sox center
fielder Johnny Damon said. "But we hear he's doing OK."

Clement was carted from the field and taken to a hospital near
Tropicana Field after Carl Crawford's liner struck him in the right
side of the head, just behind the ear, in the third inning of a
game the Red Sox went on to win 10-9 in 10 innings.

Damon made a game-saving catch to end the ninth, then hit a home
run on the first pitch of the 10th to put Boston ahead for good.
The victory enabled the Red Sox to hold onto first place in the AL
East, but none of that really mattered in the winning clubhouse.

"Nothing was easy. We came out with a win. I think the guys
gave more than they had," manager Terry Francona said.

Still, the focus was on Clement, who Boston signed to a $25.5
million, three-year contract as a free agent last offseason to help
replace Pedro Martinez and Derek Lowe.

"I was very relieved when he was coherent and speaking,"
Francona said. "He seems to be aware of his surroundings, things
like that."

Clement could be seen blinking his eyes when he was lifted off
the ground and strapped onto the stretcher, and Boston medical
director Dr. Thomas Gill later issued a statement saying a CT scan
was negative.

"I have spoken with Matt and his doctors in Florida," Gill
said. "Matt himself never lost consciousness and is in good
spirits. ... He appears to be doing well, but will stay in the
hospital for precautionary purposes and will be re-evaluated in the

Francona planned to visit Clement in the hospital.

"I talked to his wife. The medical people have talked to her,
and he's talked to her," Francona said. "He's OK. All the tests
came back (negative). He'll be re-examined. ... Hopefully
everything will be OK, and he can go home with us."

After he was hit, Clement remained on the ground and barely
moved for about five minutes before he was lifted onto the
stretcher and immobilized with a neck brace. Replays showed the
force of Crawford's liner knocked the pitcher completely off his

The crowd of 24,029 -- the majority red-clad Boston fans -- stood
and cheered as he was carted off through a tunnel behind home

"You just never want to see anybody in that kind of
situation," Crawford said. "They gave me the medical report.
... I'm just glad he's OK."

Devil Rays manager Lou Piniella was relieved, too.

"That's the best thing about this ballgame," Piniella said.
"We were concerned that the way he got hit, as flush as he got
hit, that there would be some problems."

Manny Ramirez, Jason Varitek and Johnny Damon homered for the
Red Sox, who snapped an 8-8 tie on Damon's solo shot on the first
pitch of the 10th. Varitek added an RBIs double off Danys Baez (5-3)
to give Curt Schilling (3-4) a two-run lead.

The Devil Rays scored on Travis Lee's RBIs double in the bottom
of the 10th, but Schilling held on for his second victory as a
reliever since returning to the Red Sox after missing two months
with an ankle injury.

Boston's Trot Nixon left the game in the third after straining a
muscle in his left side swinging at a pitch. He was in the
trainer's room when Clement went down, and immediately thought of
another scary injury to a Red Sox pitcher.

Five years ago, Bryce Florie was hit in the right eye by a ball
hit by Ryan Thompson of the New York Yankees. The line drive broke
several bones in Florie's face and left his vision impaired.

The right-hander tried to come back with Boston the next season
but didn't last long and was out of the major leagues by the end of
the season. He has not been back since.

"I always think back to Bryce," Nixon said. "Obviously any
pitcher or position player who has had that happen, these balls
come off these bats so fast. You don't have time to react to it."