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Power struggle goes to Boston
Designated hitter Carl Everett backed up manager Ozzie Guillen's declaration that the White Sox offense is strongest with Everett in the lineup.
But Boston's American League-leading offense easily overshadowed Everett's three RBIs Friday night.
The Red Sox peppered White Sox ace Mark Buehrle for 12 hits and David Ortiz drove in the final four runs with a pair of homers in the seventh and eighth innings as Boston held on for a 9-8 victory.
"Just give me a 2-1 game," Sox manager Ozzie Guillen joked.
Ortiz set a personal best with six RBIs while increasing his season home run total to 28. It marked the sixth four-hit game of his career.
The Sox made a late rally with three runs in the ninth when Tadahito Iguchi and Paul Konerko homered off closer Curt Schilling, but they still fell short, thanks to Ortiz's late-inning homers off Buehrle and rookie Bobby Jenks.
"I left it down and in, right where his swing is," Jenks said after allowing a three-run homer to Ortiz. "I served it up to him."
Ortiz was only 2-for-16 against the Sox before Friday's breakout.
Although the Sox (74-40) possess the major leagues' best record while maintaining a 12-game lead over Cleveland in the American League Central, Boston (67-47) is rounding into World Series title form.
The Red Sox have won five consecutive games and 12 straight at Fenway Park in holding a five-game lead over the New York Yankees in the AL East.
"I think if you go to this ballpark, you're going to score some runs," Guillen said. "You have to. If not, you're going to have some problems."
Boston hardly seemed fazed by a 4-0 deficit as every player in the lineup had at least one hit against Buehrle (13-5).
"Looking 1 through 9 in their batting order, there's not an easy out," Buehrle said. "Someone gets on base, and it seems like something happens every time."
More discouraging to Buehrle was that the Sox had scored 26 runs in their previous nine games before tagging Boston starter David Wells for five runs in 62/3 innings.
"It's kind of an embarrassment to the pitching staff that we should have held on for the win," Buehrle said.
Buehrle has allowed 10 or more hits in four of his 24 starts, two each against Oakland and Boston.
But a more concerning long-range trend is that Buehrle is 0-2 with a 7.58 ERA in his last three starts against Boston dating to Aug. 20, 2004. He has allowed 33 hits over 19 innings during that span.
Boston first baseman Kevin Millar snapped an 0-for-15 slump against Buehrle with a single in the fourth that led to a run.
Before Friday's game, Guillen reiterated his belief that the most successful pitcher during the regular season isn't necessarily the starter for the first game of the playoffs.
"They've hit me pretty hard this season, so if it comes down to the playoffs, hopefully I can get my revenge against them," Buehrle said.
Jenks hadn't allowed a run in his previous four outings (51/3) innings, and Guillen left the right-hander in to pitch to the left-handed hitting Ortiz instead of using left-hander Damaso Marte after Jenks walked Edgar Renteria with two out in the eighth.
"[Jenks] has been throwing the well against lefties and righties," Guillen said. "He just threw a bad pitch to the wrong guy. But I'm satisfied with what he did. I'm not going to complain."
Ortiz's homer was the first Jenks allowed in 14 major-league innings.