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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Orioles Outlast Red Sox in Holiday Nailbiter

BALTIMORE -- The Boston Red Sox began to rally in the ninth inning Thursday, and some of the Baltimore Orioles immediately went into stress-management mode. Mike Mussina, the Orioles starter who left after eight innings with a six-run lead, paced in the clubhouse. Manager Davey Johnson sat on the bench, his body contorted as always, and wished he never quit chewing tobacco.


Boston scored four runs, had the potential tying run on base and masher Mo Vaughn at the plate with two outs -- and closer Randy Myers retired him on a fly out to left. The Orioles won 8-6 before 47,075 at Camden Yards, Myers got his 17th save, Mussina his 11th win, and Johnson announced that the anxiety of American League baseball has conquered him and he's going back to tobacco.


"I've got to re-start my heart,'' said Johnson, after the Orioles (45-37) won to stay within five games of the first-place New York Yankees in the American League East.


Home runs by Cal Ripken (No. 17), Mike Devereaux (No. 4) and Luis Polonia (No. 2) helped build the 8-2 lead before the Red Sox began tearing down in the ninth.


But Boston's Brady Anderson singled in the bottom of the eight with one out, and Vaughn didn't hold him at first -- a concession that this game was over. The polite thing for Anderson to do was stay at first, not steal second.


Johnson would have none of it. He got Anderson's attention and told him to run. A six-run lead in the American League, in the home run alley that is Camden Yards? Against a team with Vaughn and Jose Canseco and all those bashers? Hah.


Mussina had thrown 113 pitches in eight strong innings, giving up only one hit after the first two innings and striking out a total of seven. But he was tired and the Red Sox had made hard outs in the eighth, so Johnson relieved him. Besides, he wanted to have Roger McDowell pitch an inning, get him some work. Pitching coach Pat Dobson hoped he would get through the ninth with 10 to 12 pitches, and be fresh for Friday night.


It wasn't that simple. Not even close.


Jose Canseco bashed a home run over the center-field wall, and Tim Naehring singled. Johnson shifted uncomfortably on the bench, and Dobson called for Myers to start throwing in the bullpen.


McDowell hit Reggie Jefferson, to put runners at first and second, nobody out. Johnson went to the mound to check on McDowell. "Are you all right?'' the manager asked.


McDowell replied, "Yeah, except for the home run and the two guys on base."


They weren't on base for long. Mike Stanley hit a double down the right-field line, and Naehring scored and Jefferson stopped at third. Johnson called on Myers.


Red Sox Manager Kevin Kennedy inserted former Orioles third baseman Jeff Manto as a pinch-hitter, and Manto struck out on three pitches. But Jeff Frye doubled to right-center, two more runs scored, and the Red Sox were within two runs. The crisis mounted, when Myers walked Lee Tinsley on a 3-2 pitch, Tinsley checking his swing on ball four.


Myers got the ball back and walked around the mound, and went about the business of pitching to Boston shortstop John Valentin. He got ahead one ball and two strikes, and Valentin fouled off an outside fastball, Myers' most effective pitch.


But Myers fooled Valentin with his next delivery, a changeup; Valentin, far out in front, struck out. Two outs. Vaughn, big and fearsome and an extra-base hit away from tying the game.


Myers went to three balls and one strike, and Vaughn fouled off a fastball. Three and two. Myers went outside, and Vaughn flied high to left, ending the game.


Tigers 6, Blue Jays 1. In Detroit, Travis Fryman hit a three-run homer and left-hander C.J. Nitkowski survived a shaky return to the big leagues to see the Tigers eat up the Blue Jays 6-1.


Nitkowski (1-0), recalled Tuesday from Triple-A Toledo, was in constant trouble during his seven innings, mainly because of six walks. But aided by two double plays, he stranded eight runners and twice left the bases loaded.


Marty Janzen (4-4) lost for the fourth time in his last five decisions.


(For other results, see Scorecard.)