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Red Sox Can't Uncork the Champagne Yet

September 25, 2003|From Associated Press

BOSTON — Any plans the Boston Red Sox had for a postgame celebration were put on ice during a disastrous first inning Wednesday.

Needing a win to clinch their first playoff berth in four years, the Red Sox trailed by seven runs before coming to bat, and the Baltimore Orioles went on to a 7-3 victory.

"We felt like we were going to have a party here tonight" after Seattle's loss to the Angels reduced Boston's magic number to one, Johnny Damon said.

But the Orioles had fun as Tony Batista hit a grand slam and Pat Hentgen pitched six strong innings to delay for at least a day Boston's clinching of a wild-card berth.

"We want to play and play well and make them earn it if they're going to clinch it," Baltimore Manager Mike Hargrove said. "Beyond that, we wanted to win the ballgame for ourselves."

For the Red Sox to miss the playoffs, they would have to lose their final four games, and Seattle would have to sweep a three-game series against Oakland, then beat Boston in a tiebreaker playoff.

"It's exciting when it's in front of you," Boston catcher Jason Varitek said. "We have to concentrate on what we have to do and that wasn't the case today."

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