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Lowell carries Red Sox past Orioles

Sep 30, 2006 - 2:54 AM BOSTON (Ticker) -- The Boston Red Sox still would like to keep their streak of second-place finishes intact.

Wily Mo Pena drove in the go-ahead run in the fifth inning and Mike Lowell added three RBI as the Red Sox held on for a 4-3 victory over the Baltimore Orioles, who lost for the fifth time in six games.

With the win, Boston (85-75) moved into a tie with Toronto, which lost to the New York Yankees on Friday, for second in the American League East Division. It has finished as the runner-up to the Yankees each of the previous eight seasons after placing fourth in 1997.

After squandering an early 2-0 lead, the Red Sox moved ahead for good in the fifth against Erik Bedard (15-11), who dropped his second straight start following a three-game winning streak.

"The biggest thing was that he couldn't get a grip on the baseball," Orioles manager Sam Perlozzo said. "He was blowing on his hand constantly. His pitch count got high and that's not Erik."

With one out, Mark Loretta singled and AL MVP candidate David Ortiz doubled before Pena roped an RBI base hit to right field. Lowell, who opened the scoring with a two-run double in the first inning, followed with a sacrifice fly for a 4-2 advantage.

"(Lowell's) such a pro," Red Sox manager Terry Francona said. "Defensively, he's as good as there is. He's a fun guy to be a coach or manage for."

Julian Tavarez (5-4) picked up the win after surrendering two runs, six hits and a season-high five walks in five innings. The righthander, who was making just his sixth start of the season, has won three of his last four decisions.

"It meant a lot to me," Tavarez said. "It makes me happy because I finished the way I wanted to finish. The Red Sox are going to look at me a little different now and that will help me for next year."

Four relievers bridged the gap to Mike Timlin, who tossed a perfect ninth for his ninth save.

Ortiz scored a pair of runs for Boston, which improved to 14-2 in the season series.

Bedard yielded four runs and seven hits in five frames.

"I just couldn't throw strikes," Bedard said. "It was hard to grip the ball, but that's really not an excuse. It's still a good season. You can't think about the negatives. You have to think about the positives."

Baltimore shortstop Miguel Tejada recorded his 212th hit of the season with a leadoff single to center field in the second inning, breaking Cal Ripken Jr.'s franchise mark.

"Ripken's every kid's favorite player growing up because of the way he plays the game," Tejada said. "I'm real proud of myself right now. This is going to be hard to break."

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