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Ashley Joins the Hit Parade in Boston’s Win

<i> From Associated Press</i>

Billy Ashley was in a Boston uniform for a little more than a week when he finally joined the assault on opponents’ pitching.

“These guys can flat-out hit,” he said Friday after getting three hits, including his first career grand slam, in the Red Sox’s 15-2 victory over Chicago at Boston. “It’s real exciting to watch the past couple of days, and today, to be a part of it.”

Nomar Garciaparra also had three of Boston’s 17 hits to extend his hitting streak to 24 games and help Tim Wakefield became Boston’s third 10-game winner.

The Red Sox scored in each of the first seven innings before Scott Eyre retired the side in order in the eighth, only the second time Boston has gone down 1-2-3 in the past 32 innings. The outburst came one game after the Red Sox scored 15 runs on 20 hits to complete a sweep over the Expos.

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“Hitting is contagious, and that happens when you’re hot. . . . They keep constant pressure on a pitcher,” White Sox starter Mike Sirotka (8-8) said.

Ashley was released by the Dodgers in spring training and signed by the Red Sox before he was sent to triple-A. After the trade of Jim Leyritz and an injury to Mo Vaughn, Ashley was called up from Pawtucket on June 22.

He showed up in Boston with his hair bleached blond. But in his first start, on Tuesday, he struck out four times, and the crowd cheered when he was removed for a pinch-hitter.

“It was a disaster for me personally, and when the fans started to get on me I tried my best to block out the boos,” Ashley said. “I think I felt the pressure most at that point. . . . The other night was a big downer for me.”

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Wakefield (10-3) gave up two runs on five hits, striking out seven and walking three to win his fourth consecutive decision. Sirotka gave up six runs, four of them earned, on 10 hits over four innings and Jason Bere gave up eight runs, three earned, in two innings.

The Red Sox have three 10-game winners at the All-Star break for the first time since Luis Tiant, Rick Wise and Bill Lee in 1975, and only the third time since the All-Star break began in 1933. Wakefield had never won more than seven games by the break before.

Toronto 3, Tampa Bay 2--Shannon Stewart had a two-out single in the 10th inning to give the Blue Jays a victory over the Devil Rays at Toronto.

Stewart, who was four for six, lined a 1-1 pitch from Esteban Yan (4-2) into center field to score pinch-runner Juan Samuel from third.

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Yan hit Ed Sprague with a pitch with one out, and Samuel replaced Sprague at first. Samuel then stole second, and went to third on another steal after Alex Gonzalez struck out.

Randy Myers (3-2) pitched a hitless 10th for the victory.

Rookie Randy Winn went four for four for the Devil Rays, who tied it, 2-2, in the eighth on Fred McGriff’s bases-loaded sacrifice fly.

Cleveland 2, Kansas City 1--Manny Ramirez, named to the AL All-Star team earlier in the day, hit two solo homers to spoil a superb pitching performance by Jose Rosado as the Indians defeated the Royals at Kansas City, Mo.

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Ramirez broke up Rosado’s no-hit bid with a two-out homer in the sixth and hit another homer in the ninth to break a 1-1 tie. They were the only hits off Rosado (3-6), who struck out seven, walked four and gave up the fewest hits of his career in a complete game.

Ramirez, a right fielder, was named as an All-Star replacement for Bernie Williams of the New York Yankees, who has a strained right knee.

Dwight Gooden went seven innings for Cleveland, his longest outing of the season. He gave up one run and six hits, struck out three and didn’t walk a batter before being replaced at the start of the eighth by Paul Shuey (1-0), who worked out of trouble after walking the first two batters.

New York 3, Baltimore 2--Chad Curtis stole third and scored on Scott Brosius’ one-out single in the ninth inning, leading Andy Pettitte and the Yankees to a victory over the Orioles at New York.

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In improving to 59-20, the Yankees set a record for the most wins in the first half of the season since the inception of the 162-game schedule in 1961. The 1970 Cincinnati Reds went 58-23 in their first 81 games.

Pettitte (10-5) gave up four hits and improved to 9-1 in 13 starts against Baltimore. The left-hander, forced to pitch deep into the game because of a depleted Yankees bullpen, walked six and struck out four in his third complete game.

Pettitte, who threw 143 pitches, and Mike Mussina were locked in a pitcher’s duel for the first seven-plus innings.

Detroit 5, Minnesota 4--Luis Gonzalez and Trey Beamon had two-out RBI singles in the 10th inning to give the Tigers a victory over the Twins at Minneapolis.

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Gonzalez singled off Eddie Guardado to score Damion Easley, who doubled off Dan Naulty (0-2). Beamon followed with a pinch-hit single to score Tony Clark, who was intentionally walked before Gonzalez’s hit.

Doug Brocail (4-1) got three outs in the ninth, and Todd Jones pitched the 10th for his 13th save, giving up a run on Matt Lawton’s RBI single.

Clark’s RBI groundout gave Detroit a 3-2 lead in the eighth, but Minnesota tied it in the bottom half on Matt Lawton’s RBI triple off Matt Anderson.


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