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Congrats to Kevin Millar on GW HR

Ramp

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credit:bostonherald.com
ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. - The Red Sox' decision to carry an oversized, 12-man pitching staff out of spring training suddenly doesn't seem so outrageous.

The strategy of carrying an extra pitcher and a short bench paid off in a major way last night, when the Sox squandered another late lead but recovered to defeat the Tampa Bay Devil Rays, 9-8, in 16 innings at Tropicana Field.

Kevin Millar, Boston's last available bench player, belted a one-out home run off Jorge Sosa in the top of the 16th to break a seemingly hopeless tie that had stood for seven innings, sending the Sox to their first win following a heartbreaking Opening Day loss.

The beleaguered bullpen blew Tim Wakefield's 8-5 lead but mop-up men Steve Woodard and Brandon Lyon (1-0) righted their high-profile predecessors' wrongs by tossing three scoreless innings apiece to preserve the pitching staff for the final two games of the series.

``They always say the first win is the toughest to get and I don't know if they get any tougher than this,'' manager Grady Little said after the 5-hour, 15-minute marathon.

The Sox avoided opening the season with consecutive losses for the first time since 1996, when Kevin Kennedy's club started 0-5. The game was the longest in Tampa Bay history and Boston's longest since an 8-7, 18-inning loss in Texas on Aug. 25, 2001. ``It was really a battle but hopefully this will get us going,'' said Millar, who entered the game as a pinch hitter in the 14th inning. ``I think everyone had the jitters for the first couple of games.''

Wakefield, who was dominating throughout spring training, wasn't at his best last night but he was in position to pick up a victory before the 'pen blew another late lead. The knuckleballer allowed five runs on five hits in five innings and struck out six batters, but the 8-5 lead he handed over quickly slipped away. Mike Timlin allowed one run in two innings while Bob Howry permitted the Rays to tie the score in the eighth on light-hitting Rey Ordonez' two-run homer.

The bullpen did, however, finally have some high points. Ramiro Mendoza worked out of a bases-loaded jam in the eighth, Alan Embree marooned two runners in the 10th and Woodard worked three scoreless frames, escaping perilous circumstances in the 12th and 13th. Lyon wrapped up by allowing only two hits, while striking out four batters.

``Woodard and Lyon were outstanding,'' Little said. ``They'd been throwing like that all through spring training and it carried into tonight.''

The Sox nearly ended it in the 15th, only to be thwarted by rookie Rocco Baldelli. With Trot Nixon on second base, Johnny Damon lashed a one-out single to center field but Baldelli unleashed a perfect throw to the plate to nail Nixon. The former Rhode Island schoolboy star also legged out three infield hits.

Millar's first official homer with the Sox overshadowed the play.

``I was looking for something out over the plate and he fooled me a bit (with a slider) but I was able to stay back and get the good part of the bat on it,'' Millar said.

Jeremy Giambi's two-run homer off Victor Zambrano in the fifth inning and Manny Ramirez' two-run blooper double in the sixth gave the Sox an 8-5 lead, but the closer-by-committee setup failed to nail down the win for the second consecutive game. Ordonez cut the score to 8-6 with an RBI double off Timlin in the sixth before lining a two-run homer down the left field line off Howry in the eighth to tie it.

``This is a new process and a learning process for everyone,'' Little said of the blown leads. ``After they get their first (appearance) under their belt, I think you'll see different people.''
 

AJBurnett34

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Yea congrats on that Millar! He hit a nice bomb im seeing it in ESPN!
 

Marlins4lyf

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yea and today he hit his 2nd of the season he also hit a 2 run double
 
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