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Sox going for the sweep

Sox going for the sweep

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Tim Wakefield adopted the knuckleball only after his brief Minor League career as an infielder didn't pan out.

By 1992, he had sufficiently developed the pitch to earn a call-up to the Majors. As a 26-year-old rookie, Wakefield joined Barry Bonds' Pirates and won eight games down the stretch. Bucs fans fondly remember Wakefield's performance in the 1992 NLCS, when he twirled complete-game wins in Games 3 and 6 against Tom Glavine and the Atlanta Braves.

In many ways, that was the last good thing to happen to Pittsburgh baseball. Doug Drabek started Game 7 and held the Braves scoreless for eight innings, but he was charged with three runs in Atlanta's decisive final at-bat. Within a calendar year, Wakefield and Bonds were gone -- to the Red Sox and Giants, respectively, who will face off at 2:05 p.m. ET on Sunday -- and the Pirates have languished below .500 in each year since.

"If we had [Wakefield] pitch the last game, we would have been in the World Series, as well as that guy pitched for us," Barry Bonds said this weekend at Fenway Park. "He was phenomenal."

Wakefield, who will start on Sunday, has faced Bonds on three occasions since the slugger signed with San Francisco before the 1993 season.

Twice in 1993, his last year in Pittsburgh, Wakefield faced the Giants. He lost both times, but held Bonds to zero hits in seven at-bats.

The Red Sox traveled to San Francisco for an Interleague series in 2004, where Wakefield started and held Bonds hitless again, although he did walk the Giants slugger twice.

"I don't do well off him because he's just too slow," Bonds said.

San Francisco will counter with Matt Morris, who appears to be well on his way to his third All-Star Game with a 2.56 ERA in 13 starts, fourth best in the National League.

Pitching matchup
BOS: RHP Tim Wakefield (6-7, 3.92 ERA)
For a month and a half, Wakefield's fortunes soared. For a month after that, they bottomed out. After two quality starts since a June 1 drubbing by the Yankees, Wakefield seems to have found a happy, consistent medium. His knuckler was crisp in a loss at Oakland and a win against the Rockies. He has a 5.68 career ERA against the Giants, incurring most of the damage as a National Leaguer in the early '90s.

SF: RHP Matt Morris (7-3, 2.56 ERA)
Morris steams into Sunday's game on a seven-game win streak. He has pitched consecutive complete games. Red Sox fans will remember the Giants' ace for throwing a dud in Game 2 of the 2004 World Series, when he allowed eight baserunners in 4 1/3 innings and got the loss as a member of the St. Louis Cardinals.

Player to watch
J.D. Drew, who caught fire in the first game of the Giants series, has hammered Morris over his career, with six hits and two homers in just 18 at-bats.

Tickets
 Buy tickets now to catch the game in person.

On the Internet
 MLB.TV
 Gameday Audio
•  Gameday
•  Official game notes

On television
• NESN

On radio
• WRKO 680, WROL (Español)

Up next
• Monday: Red Sox (Curt Schilling, 6-3, 3.80) at Braves (Chuck James, 5-6, 4.16), 7:05 p.m. ET
• Tuesday: Red Sox (Josh Beckett, 9-1, 3.39) at Braves (Tim Hudson, 6-4, 3.25), 7:35 p.m. ET
• Wednesday: Red Sox (Julian Tavarez, 4-4, 4.97) at Braves (Buddy Carlyle, 1-1, 4.44), 7:35 p.m. ET

Alex McPhillips is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

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