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Boston wins, gets wild-card playoff spot

Boston Red Sox players erupt out of the dugout after the final out of their wild-card-clinching victory.
Boston Red Sox players erupt out of the dugout after the final out of their wild-card-clinching victory.
Winslow Townson, Associated Press

BOSTON — The Red Sox are back in the playoffs for the first time since 1999, looking for their first World Series title in quite a bit longer.

Derek Lowe held Baltimore to two hits over six innings, and Jason Varitek, Nomar Garciaparra and Kevin Millar homered as Boston clinched the last spot in the AL playoffs by beating the Orioles 14-3 Thursday night.

The Red Sox, who have made the postseason 10 times since 1918 without winning a championship, are four games ahead of the Mariners in the AL wild-card race with three games remaining.

Boston's win finalized the AL matchups for the first round: Minnesota will play against the Yankees starting Tuesday in New York, and Boston will open the following day at Oakland.

Playing before a full ballpark for the 64th consecutive home game, the Red Sox quickly gave the 34,526 in the crowd something to cheer about. It was 12-0 after four innings, and the Red Sox coasted.

Manager Grady Little emptied his bench after five innings, and Lowe (17-7) left after six with the victory all but secure. The Red Sox won't be back at Fenway Park until Game 3 of the playoffs, on Oct. 4.

Lowe did not give up a hit through 4 1-3 innings. He wound up allowing one earned run and four walks while striking out one.

Bill Mueller went 3-for-5 to raise his league-leading batting average to .327, adding two runs and three RBIs for Boston. Garciaparra, who had been slumping all month, had a run-scoring groundout to go with his three-run homer.

Omar Daal (4-11) has not won since May 30, a span that includes two months on the disabled list with tendinitis on his left rotator cuff. He allowed seven runs and seven hits, getting just five outs.

Baltimore couldn't muster so much as a hit against Lowe until there was one out in the fifth and Luis Matos hit a high bouncer that stopped about halfway to third base. Lowe, who pitched Boston's last no-hitter on April 27, 2002, appeared disappointed, so Varitek went out to the mound to talk to him and give the fans a chance to cheer.

BLUE JAYS 10, DEVIL RAYS 8: At Toronto, Carlos Delgado hit four home runs Thursday night, becoming the 15th player in major league history to accomplish the feat in leading the Toronto Blue Jays over Tampa Bay 10-8.

Delgado connected in four straight at-bats. His first homer of the game was the 300th of his career. His fourth came off Lance Carter (7-5).

Delgado was the first player to homer four times in a game since Shawn Green did it for Los Angeles on May 23, 2002, against Milwaukee.

The Toronto slugger was the fifth AL player to do it, the first since Mike Cameron for Seattle on May 2, 2002, against the Chicago White Sox. Lou Gehrig, Rocky Colavito and Pat Seerey also did it in the AL.

Trever Miller (2-2) pitched 1 1/3 innings for the win.

TIGERS 5, TWINS 4 (11): At Detroit, Shane Halter hit a two-out, solo home run in the 11th inning to snap Minnesota's 11-game winning streak.

With their third straight win, the Tigers would have to lose their final three games of the season to break the post-1900 record of 120 defeats by the 1962 New York Mets.

Detroit (41-118) set the AL record for losses on Monday night with its 10th consecutive setback. Since then, the Tigers have not lost. Detroit has won three straight for the first time since sweeping a three-game series against Cleveland from Sept. 2-4.

Chris Mears (1-3) earned his first major league victory after pitching two innings of scoreless relief. Brad Thomas (0-1) took the loss.

ROYALS 7, WHITE SOX 3: At Kansas City, Mo., Carlos Beltran's two-run homer off Dan Wright (1-7) combined with a sacrifice fly gave the 26-year-old switch-hitter 99 RBIs.

With 101 runs scored and 41 stolen bases, Beltran is on the verge of becoming only the sixth player since 1900 to record 100 RBIs, 100 runs and 30 steals in a season.

Brian Anderson (14-11) took a no-hit bid into the fifth and beat the White Sox for the fifth time in six decisions. He went eight innings, gave up seven hits and three runs, with two walks and a strikeout.