BOSTON (AP) -- Kevin Millar stayed in Boston's lineup through
slumps and struggles and more one-liners than the statisticians
could possibly count.
Now, Boston's faith in the quick-with-a-quip first baseman may
be paying off.
Millar, the man who made "Cowboy Up" the team's catchphrase,
up and hit two homers Wednesday night to help the Red Sox rally
from a big deficit for the second consecutive game and beat the
Tampa Bay Devil Rays 7-6.
"He's part of us. ... This is 'we,' and it always will be,"
manager Terry Francona said. "We don't just try to get the flavor
of the day. We try to do what we think is right for the long
David Ortiz also homered -- his fifth in five games -- and Tim
Wakefield settled down after allowing three homers in the first
three innings to fall behind 5-1. It was Boston's 38th
come-from-behind victory, and it came one night after it rallied
from a 5-0 deficit to win in the bottom of the ninth.
"You hate to put your team down that much early, but I can't
say enough about our offense," said Wakefield (14-10), who leads
the World Series champions in wins. "I am fortunate to be pitching
on the right days when they have been scoring all those runs."
Millar hit 43 home runs in the previous two seasons but had hit
only one since a two-homer game on June 4. Still a popular player
in the clubhouse, the outspoken and sometimes goofy first baseman
had been losing fans at Fenway Park ever since.
"It's too late for all that," he said, challenging the fans to
get behind him. "I'm not going anywhere."
Millar is batting .272 with seven homers and 45 RBI for the
year, and though the team went out and got John Olerud to help out
at first base, Millar still sees most of the at-bats. Before
homering last week, he went 182 at-bats without hitting one.
On Wednesday, he homered to lead off the second and tie the game
at 1, then broke a 5-all tie in the seventh with a two-run drive
that gave Boston its first lead.
Wakefield allowed five runs on six hits and a walk, striking out
five to improve to 13-1 against Tampa Bay and win for the sixth
time in seven starts. He gave up solo homers to Julio Lugo and
Travis Lee and a three-run shot to Carl Crawford to fall behind 5-1
before retiring the last 16 batters he faced.
"Same type of game as last night. We jump out to an early lead
and they got back at us," manager Lou Piniella said. "He gave up
runs early and then shut us down."
Mike Timlin allowed Alex Gonzalez's sacrifice fly in the ninth
before earning his fourth save.
Casey Fossum (8-11) allowed six runs on seven hits and two walks
in 6 2/3 innings, striking out five. The Devil Rays, who took a 5-0
lead off Curt Schilling before losing 7-6 on Tuesday, led 5-1
through three this time before Boston came back for its 18th win in
its last 19 games at Fenway.
Doug Mirabelli led off the fourth with a homer to make it 5-2,
then Bill Mueller singled and Gabe Kapler doubled. Alex Cora
followed with an RBI groundout and Johnny Damon hit a sacrifice fly
to make it 5-4.
Ortiz homered to lead off the fifth and tie the score at 5-all.
It stayed that way until the seventh, when Fossum hit Manny Ramirez
with two outs. Jesus Colome relieved him and gave up Millar's
towering shot off the soda bottles above the Green Monster to break
Mirabelli caught Colome napping in the seventh and took off
for second base. Colome realized too late that Mirabelli was
running, then threw into center field to let the runner get to
third. It was Mirabelli's second stolen base of the season, a
career high. "I don't know how they didn't see him," Francona
said. "I felt him." ... Boston recalled INF Kevin Youkilis from
Triple-A and optioned right-hander Manny Delcarmen to Pawtucket.
... Red Sox 2B Tony Graffanino was kept out of the lineup with a
tender hamstring. ... RHP Wade Miller (shoulder tendinitis) threw
about 30 pitches before the game and reported no problems. ... RHP
Seth McClung will rejoin the team on Friday but be reinstated on
Saturday for his start against the Blue Jays. He left the team to
be with his family after his grandmother died.
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