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Schilling Shines for Red Sox

July 04, 2004|From Associated Press

ATLANTA — Boston's bullpen needed a break, and all of the Red Sox needed a lift.

Curt Schilling delivered.

Schilling pitched a six-hitter and Doug Mirabelli broke open a close score with a grand slam to power the Red Sox to a 6-1 victory over the Atlanta Braves on Saturday night. Boston ended a four-game losing streak.

"Hopefully, tonight is the start of a real good run for us," Manager Terry Francona said.

Johnny Damon and Nomar Garciaparra each had three hits, including a homer. The Red Sox had lost seven of nine, including consecutive losses in extra innings to the New York Yankees and the Braves the previous two nights.

"Our bullpen was worn out," Schilling said. "We needed innings out of me to stay fresh."

Schilling responded with the 81st complete game of his career, and second this season.

Schilling (11-4) struck out 10 and walked one. With runners on first and third and one out in the fifth, Schilling struck out Rafael Furcal and Nick Green. He retired the last 10 batters he faced.

"He just had us all out of whack," first baseman Adam LaRoche said.

Garciaparra is six for nine since sitting out Thursday night against the Yankees to rest his sore Achilles' tendon, a move that was criticized in Boston. In two games, he has lifted his batting average from .235 to .286.

Garciaparra sat out the first 57 games with right Achilles' tendinitis and was activated June 9.

"I'm just glad to be playing," he said.

A Turner Field record crowd of 51,831 included a strong contingent of Red Sox fans. The previous record was 51,638 for the 2002 season opener against Philadelphia.

The Red Sox cut the Yankees' lead to 7 1/2 games in the American League East.

"These guys don't give up," Garciaparra said. "We believe in ourselves. Today was an example."

Even as Boston has struggled, Schilling has been a consistent leader. Each of his last four victories has followed a Red Sox loss.

"On this club I didn't expect to be stopping a lot of streaks," Schilling said.

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