Sox claim extra-inning thriller in Tampa Bay

Sox claim extra-inning thriller in Tampa Bay

ST. PETERSBURG -- It was Johnny Damon's finest moment at Tropicana Field on Tuesday night, first saving the game with an incredible catch in the ninth inning, and then turning around to smash the go-ahead home run in the 10th inning, propelling the Red Sox to a 10-9 win over the Devil Rays.

But the visiting clubhouse after the game was full of somber faces, not smiling ones, and the victory seemed like an excuse to simply get off the field and attend to something more important.

With one out in the third inning, Boston right-hander Matt Clement was struck behind his right ear with a line drive by Carl Crawford. Though he never lost consciousness, Clement was down 11 minutes and rushed to a nearby hospital. A CAT scan was negative, but Clement remained hospitalized overnight to be re-evaluated Wednesday morning.

"I was very relieved when he was, you know, coherent and speaking and seemed to be aware of his surroundings," Red Sox manager Terry Francona said. "It gets a little tense. For one second, you want to get an out, and then you stop caring about the out and start caring about your guy."

Right fielder Trot Nixon left the game in the top of the third after he strained the oblique muscle on his left side. He will have MRI on Wednesday.

One night after playing their first extra-inning game of the season, the Red Sox went the distance again Tuesday, and found themselves in an emotional roller coaster as they fought off both the Devil Rays' comebacks and concerns for Clement.

Damon, however, showed no signs of his mind being elsewhere. With a runner on first in the ninth, the Rays' Jorge Cantu hit a ball to left-center, the farthest point of Tropicana Field, forcing Damon to back up to the wall and make a leaping catch.

Coincidentally, he was next to bat, and slammed the first pitch he saw off Tampa Bay closer Danys Baez over the right-field wall, putting the Red Sox up, 9-8. Jason Varitek followed with an RBI double to score Edgar Renteria.

"I was just trying to get one base," Damon said. "I lived up to my potential I guess."

The Rays came out swinging in the 10th inning, and Curt Schilling, who gave up a game-winning double to Aubrey Huff on Monday, allowed a two-out, RBI-double to Travis Lee.

Schilling got out of this one, though, as Joey Gaithright grounded out, handing the veteran right-hander the victory.

"Nothing was easy and we came out with a win, and I think these guys gave more than they had," Francona said. "These guys gave a little more than they had. One minute, the game looks like it over, [then Damon] comes in and makes the play. ... To hang on to win, it's tremendous."

The Red Sox jumped out to an early lead on a two-run home run by Manny Ramirez in the first inning.

In the third, Doug Mirabelli hit an RBI single, scoring Damon. Ramirez followed with a single to right field. Rays starter Mark Hendrickson then walked Varitek before Kevin Millar, who finished 3-for-4, followed with a single to left field, scoring Mirabelli. With Bill Mueller batting, Hendrickson threw a wild pitch into the dirt, allowing Ramirez to score from third and extending Boston's lead to 5-0.

The Rays, almost capitalizing on the Red Sox's distraction of Clement's injury, came back in the third.

With right-hander Chad Bradford on the mound, Aubrey Huff crushed a 1-0 pitch into the right-field stands for his second grand slam in five days, tying the game at 5.

Both teams remained relatively quiet until the sixth inning, when the Rays' Jonny Gomes hit a sacrifice fly to center field to score Huff.

Boston answered in the seventh, when Mueller singled to drive in Varitek.

Right-hander Manny Delcarmen, a Hyde Park native making his Major League debut, was brought in the eighth inning with a 6-6 ball game and struck out one.

"For the most part, I felt I threw pretty good," he said. "They told me that if we were leading, they'd bring me in, and if they were tied, they'd bring in Schilling."

Before Schilling could make it, though, the Red Sox had to grab back the lead.

With one out in the ninth, Varitek hit a solo homer to center and then Millar followed with a bloop single to center. Adam Stern entered as a pinch-runner and took second on John Olerud's single.

Mueller followed with a double over Travis Lee's glove down the right-field line. Stern scored easily from second, but Olerud was thrown out at the plate, leaving the game tied at 8.

Damon, who finished 3-for-5, took care of the rest, but he was still concerned about the rest of the team.

"Great teams can use all their guys and we're going to have to get used to that," he said.

Jared S. Hopkins is a contributor to This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.