Red Sox stage late rally to nip Royals

Red Sox stage late rally in win

BOSTON -- With Tim Wakefield already out of the game with a strained upper back and the Red Sox's bats unusually quiet for a second straight day, Boston needed a major pick-me-up.

Doug Mirabelli to the rescue. Wakefield's longtime batterymate clubbed a three-run homer in the seventh inning to cap a four-run, game-tying rally against the Royals, and Manny Ramirez's sacrifice fly scored pinch-runner Willie Harris with the go-ahead run one inning later as the Red Sox recorded a 5-4 come-from-behind win on Monday at Fenway Park.

Jonathan Papelbon retired all three batters in the ninth and recorded his first save since before the All-Star break -- his 27th of the season -- as the Red Sox improved to 2-3 on their current eight-game homestand.

Wakefield, who leaped for a wild throw during the third inning, had his second shortest outing of the season, leaving after yielding three runs on four hits over four frames.

After the game, Red Sox manager Terry Francona announced that veteran knuckleballer will have further tests on his ailing back on Tuesday. Francona met with team doctor Thomas Gill immediately following the game in the manager's office.

"He started the game out with much improvement. I actually thought he was throwing the ball very well," Francona said. "Starting after [the third inning] though, you could see him, at least we thought, gritting his teeth and kind of flinching a little bit. It was grabbing at him. He's been out there enough that he knew the situation. He needed to pitch some innings. He tried to tough it out, and I think he was more than willing to keep toughing it out."

As for a potential trip to the disabled list, Francona didn't want to speculate on a timetable afterward.

"I hope not," said the Sox skipper. "I'm still hoping not. We don't have to do that [on Tuesday]. I think I'd like to let the doctors do their work and see what they come up with before we make a decision."

After a 1-2-3 first inning, Wakefield ran into control trouble in the second. He hit Emil Brown to open the inning but appeared ready to quickly get out of the inning when he retired the next two batters. But Wakefield gave up a single to Mark Teahen and consecutive walks to the bottom two batters in the order, Joey Gathright and John Buck, to force in the first run.

David DeJesus followed with a two-run single to center to make it 3-0.

With one out in the third, Brown grounded a single to right. The Royals right fielder fell rounding first and Kevin Youkilis appeared to be ready to throw him out. But Youkilis' throw back to first was too high for a leaping Wakefield and Brown made it back to the bag.

"I don't think it was any one thing," Mirabelli said. "It's just been bothering him for a while now. He's been hurting for the last couple of weeks. He was pushed back to this start and he's just battled through it, battled through it, but it was just too much. I think the rest helped him out for a little bit, but when it starts to spasm and tighten up, you can't do anything about it. He didn't have to say anything. I could see it in his face."

He walked three and struck out two while throwing 77 pitches, 49 for strikes.

"I grabbed him after the fourth and I said, 'This isn't gonna work. This is silly,'" Francona said. "He's going to get some more extensive testing done [on Tuesday]. Hopefully it is just musculature in nature and treatment and rest, whatever that rest may be, will help."

The Red Sox's offense finally awoke in the seventh. Coco Crisp delivered an RBI single to score Ramirez with Boston's first run. Mirabelli then struck his biggest blow since returning to Boston on May 1, when he sent a 3-2 pitch from reliever Joel Peralta (1-2) into the first row of Green Monster seats in left-center. The homer, with Mike Lowell and Crisp aboard, tied the game at 4.

Just one pitch earlier, Mirabelli trotted down to first prematurely, thinking Peralta's 3-1 pitch was outside. But home-plate umpire Jim Joyce did Mirabelli a favor by calling the fastball a strike.

"I was fortunate the pitch was a close pitch and I was starting to walk to first base thinking it was ball four," Mirabelli said. "I took a second to regroup and in that situation you're trying to get a pitch, get a strike. Coming from 3-1 and now I'm 3-2, I had no idea what he's going to throw there at that time. I just sold out on the fastball and was fortunate."

"That was big," Crisp added. "We had a rally going and you want to keep the rally going, unless it's going to get stopped by a game-tying home run there. It definitely gets the juices flowing and we were able to come back and get a good inning out of [Mike Timlin] to get us back out there to allow us to score another run."

Mark Loretta and David Ortiz began the eighth-inning rally with consecutive singles to get things started before Ramirez sent a fly ball to DeJesus in left to score Harris.

Timlin (5-0) pitched a perfect eighth to earn the win.

Mike Petraglia is a contributor to This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.