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Garciaparra celebrates 29th birthday with 8 RBI

BOSTON (AP) -- Nomar Garciaparra found a unique way to celebrate
his 29th birthday: with three home runs.

Garciaparra connected three times -- giving him a record-tying
five home runs in two games -- and had eight RBI to lead the Boston
Red Sox over the Tampa Bay Devil Rays 22-4 Tuesday in a
doubleheader opener.

''You don't see days like this coming,'' Garciaparra said. ''You
never say, 'I feel good. I'm going to hit three.'''

Garciaparra, 29, became the first major leaguer to have a three
home-run game on his birthday, according to the Elias Sports
Bureau, baseball's statistician. Fans serenaded him with a ''Happy
Birthday'' chorus.

''On birthdays, I'm usually pretty low key,'' Garciaparra said.
''It was just good timing.''

Garciaparra homered off Tanyon Sturtze (1-10) and Brandon Backe
in a 10-run third inning, then hit a grand slam in the fourth off
Backe. Garciaparra also homered twice Sunday at New York -- it was
26th time a player has hit five homers in two games.

Despite the big game in the series finale at Yankee Stadium,
Garciaparra hit just .222 (10-for-45 ) on the trip.

''He hadn't been swinging the bat well, and he swung the bat
better today, but got the pitches to hit and made good swings,''
Tampa Bay manager Hal McRae said.

It was Boston's highest-scoring game in the regular season at
Fenway Park since a 23-3 win over Detroit on June 18, 1953. The Red
Sox beat Cleveland 23-7 at home in the 1999 playoffs.

Boston, 9-0 against Tampa Bay this season, hit seven homers in
all, including two by Manny Ramirez, who had five RBI. The 22 runs
were the most ever against the Devil Rays, who began play in 1998.

It was the second three-homer game for Garciaparra, who also did
it against Seattle on May 10, 1999.

Garciaparra also became the third Red Sox player to homer twice
in one inning, the first since Ellis Burks against Cleveland on
Aug. 27, 1990. Bill Regan also accomplished the feat, against
Chicago on June 16, 1928.

In the opener of the day-night doubleheader, Boston trailed 4-0
after two innings. It was the 28th time the Red Sox reached double
digits in runs in an inning, the most in the major leagues.
Boston's previous inning of 10 or more runs was an 11-run first
against the Chicago White Sox on June 26, 1999.

Ramirez went 3-for-6, Trot Nixon went 4-for-5 with three RBI
and a home run, and Johnny Damon also homered. It was the most runs
for Boston in a regular-season game since a 22-4 rout of Kansas
City on April 12, 1994.

Tim Wakefield (4-3) allowed four runs and five hits in five
innings, and Willie Banks finished the six-hitter for his second
career save, his first since Aug. 24, 1998, for Arizona at the New
York Mets.

Sturtze allowed nine runs -- seven earned -- eight hits and three
walks in 2 1/3 innings.

Damon led off the third with a home run. Lou Merloni singled and
Garciaparra homered over the Green Monster, connecting on a 3-0

Ramirez homered just inside the right-field foul pole, Nixon hit
a two-run double for a 6-4 lead, Doug Mirabelli hit an RBI double
and Damon chased Sturtze with a run-scoring single that made it

Backe retired Merloni on a popup. Garciaparra followed with
another two-run homer over the Green Monster, hitting the first

Garciaparra added his fourth career grand slam in the fourth,
hitting a 2-2 pitch over the Green Monster. It gave him 16 home
runs this season.

The four homers allowed in one inning tied a Tampa Bay record,
set against Oakland on Aug. 1, 1999.

Garciaparra walked against Steve Kent in the sixth, on a 3-1
pitch as the crowd booed. He flied out on the first pitch he saw
from Travis Phelps in the eighth.

Tampa Bay built its early lead on Steve Cox's two-run homer in
the first, Jared Sandberg's second-inning sacrifice fly and Carl
Crawford's RBI double later in the inning.

Game notes
Boston RHP Dustin Hermanson was unavailable to pitch after
a tiny cut on his left elbow caused his arm to swell up. Hermanson
said he banged the elbow on Thursday after he slipped while washing
dishes in his bare feet. He was given antibiotics intravenously
after the elbow swelled up on Sunday, and was scheduled for another
IV on Tuesday. He came off the disabled list Saturday after
injuring his groin in his first appearance for Boston in April. ...
Red Sox manager Grady Little intends to cut his pitching staff from
12 to 11 when infielder Carlos Baerga comes off the disabled list
Thursday. Baerga had been out with a left hamstring injury.