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Ramirez powers Red Sox past Rays in brawl-marred contest

Jun 6, 2008 - 4:23 AM By Tony Lee PA SportsTicker Contributing Writer

BOSTON (Ticker) -- Manny Ramirez was late to one fight, in the middle of another and found just enough time to deliver haymakers with his bat during a wild Thursday night at Fenway Park.

Amid a chippy affair that saw a bench-clearing brawl in the second inning and a scuffle in the Boston Red Sox dugout between Ramirez and teammate Kevin Youkilis, the Red Sox slugger smashed a three-run homer in the first and had five RBI before leaving with an apparent leg injury in Boston's 7-1 victory over the Tampa Bay Rays.

Five players were hit by pitches, three ejected and two Red Sox - Ramirez and rookie outfielder Jacoby Ellsbury - hurt in a three-hour, 40-minute affair that saw Boston extend its home winning streak to 13.

"What we wanted to do was win the game and that's what we did," Boston manager Terry Francona said. "I know a lot happened in between."

That may be the understatement of the year.

Following a contentious meeting the night before that suggested the tense but one-sided rivalry would remain so, the teams wasted little time getting into it Thursday.

Rays starter James Shields plunked Red Sox center fielder Coco Crisp with a pitch to open the bottom of the second inning, carrying on a dispute between Crisp and Tampa Bay that started Wednesday night. Shields, Crisp and Rays designated hitter Jonny Gomes were ejected after what amounted to a violent fight.

Crisp slid hard into Tampa Bay second baseman Akinori Iwamura in the eighth inning Wednesday. Crisp called it a premeditated move made in retaliation for a hard play at second earlier in the game that left him with an injured thumb.

"I thought what he did yesterday was absolutely a dirty move," said Shields, who hit Crisp in the right leg. "I thought it was bush league. I think it's not supposed to be in the game of professional baseball. I'm out there to protect my players no matter what the cost is. If I have to get out in the second inning than I have to get out in the second inning. But I thought I did it the right way and he came out at me and things went down."

Crisp actually agreed, giving Shields credit for hitting him low and taking care of business, but blasted Gomes and Rays left fielder Carl Crawford for dirty play at the bottom of the pile.

"We went down to the ground, the scratches on my face were like we're playing football," Crisp said, marks on his cheek and forehead clearly visible after the game. "After that people were trying to pull my hair like little girls instead of throwing some real punches or something like that. The fight is pretty much over, you wanna come in late and get some extra blows in, that's cool. Pull some hair, that's all right. It was between me and Shields and everyone tried to get their low blows in."

Shields was waiting for Crisp but missed wildly with the first punch as Boston's center fielder moved out of the way. Crisp was wayward with an answer before a rush of players and coaches swallowed the brawlers into a pile on the mound.

In the mix, Red Sox third base coach DeMarlo Hale took down Shields from behind while Gomes jumped on Crisp, throwing punches that mostly tagged the back of his own catcher, Dioner Navarro, who was atop Crisp.

Gomes was a key figure in a spring training brawl with the New York Yankees, sprinting in from his right field position to fight Shelley Duncan at second base.

"In this game for 100 years you've been seeing that," Gomes said, insisting he was only protecting his teammates. "Is it the right thing? Is it the wrong thing? I don't know. It just seems in this game that's how messages are sent. From the slide that (Crisp) took the other day, I don't know if he took it upon himself, but that's what it's from.

The designated hitter Thursday, Ramirez likely was in the batting cage when fists started flying and was among the last to reach the mound.

However, the enigmatic slugger was not through making his presence felt. His two-run single in the fourth finished the scoring and, after Youkilis and he exchanged words in the dugout following the frame, Ramirez slapped Youkilis with a backhand before both players were separated.

Neither player spoke with media following the game, and Francona said only that the two "were just exchanging some views on things."

Speculation arose that Youkilis was either upset that Ramirez failed to hustle on a force-out to end the fourth, or for not taking an outfield spot after Crisp was ejected and rookie Jacoby Ellsbury left with a strained right wrist.

Regardless, Francona said it was settled.

"We had a lot of testosterone going tonight," he said. "It was a hectic night. Sometimes those things happen. It wasn't really a big deal, it won't be a big deal, it happens."

Ramirez, whose home run was the 503rd of his career and fifth in nine games, appeared to tweak his knee holding up a swing in the seventh. He went to first on a walk but was replaced by Kevin Cash one batter later, ending his first five-RBI performance since July 1, 2006.

Overshadowed by the fights and injuries was a steady performance by Jon Lester (4-3), who yielded a run and eight hits in 6 1/3 innings. Lester struck out five and walked none in improving to 8-2 in his career at Fenway Park.

Lester was a relative afterthought in a game that ran Boston's home winning streak against Tampa Bay to eight. The Red Sox lead the Rays in the American League East by 1 1/2 games.

Shields (4-4) was charged with four runs in one-plus innings in dropping his second straight decision against the Red Sox since shutting them out April 27.

With Dustin Pedroia and J.D. Drew aboard in the first, Ramirez clubbed a Shields offering in the first far over the "Green Monster" where it landed on the top of a parking garage.

Willy Aybar delivered the Rays' only run of the night with an RBI double in the second, but Boston managed a quick answer following the brawl.

Rookie Chris Carter made his major league debut pinch-running for Crisp. A walk, groundout and fly ball by Pedroia brought Carter in to make it 4-1, and Carter's single in his first career at-bat ignited a three-run rally in the fourth.

Ellsbury rolled over his right wrist making a diving catch in the fourth, his glove getting caught under him as he landed. X-rays were negative and it was labeled a strain.

"When we got out to see him, it hurt and you saw how it looked but I think that we're very hopeful that that's all it is," Francona said.

Youkilis, Crawford and Iwamura were each hit by pitches later in the game, and Lester buzzed Cliff Floyd in the seventh before staring the lefthander down.

Perhaps those acts will help the ill feelings simmer until they meet in Tampa Bay later this month. Shields, for one, is not prepared to be intimidated by the world champs.

"We've been getting stomped around the last 10 years and it isn't going to happen anymore," he said. "I had to let them know early and let them know right away."

Major League Baseball likely will serve suspensions for the three ejected, and may have some penalties for Crawford or Iwamura, who were active in the pile.








  • AL
    FINAL
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 R H E
    - - - - - - - - - - - -
    TAMPA BAY 0 1 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 1 9 0
    BOSTON 3 1 0 3 0 0 0 0 x 7 8 1 (FINAL)

    BATTERIES: TAM - JAMES SHIELDS, GRANT BALFOUR (2ND), J.P. HOWELL (4TH), GARY
    GLOVER (5TH), DAN WHEELER (7TH), AL REYES (8TH) AND DIONER
    NAVARRO
    BOS - JON LESTER, MIKE TIMLIN

    Jun 5 9:44 PM


  • AL
    AT BOSTON - SCORING UPDATE
    SINGLE BY MANNY RAMIREZ SCORED JULIO LUGO AND DUSTIN
    PEDROIA.
    SITUATION: 3 RUNS IN, M RAMIREZ ON FIRST, J DREW ON SECOND, 2 OUT
    CURRENT SCORE: TAMPA BAY 1
    BOSTON 7 BOTTOM, 4TH
    DUE UP FOR BOSTON: M LOWELL (.280, 0-FOR-2)

    Rays 1, Red Sox 7  Bot 4, 0 OutsJun 5 7:56 PM


  • AL
    AT BOSTON - SCORING UPDATE
    BASES LOADED WALK TO J.D. DREW SCORED CHRIS CARTER.
    SITUATION: 1 RUN IN, J DREW ON FIRST, D PEDROIA ON SECOND, J LUGO
    ON THIRD, 2 OUT
    CURRENT SCORE: TAMPA BAY 1
    BOSTON 5 BOTTOM, 4TH
    DUE UP FOR BOSTON: M RAMIREZ (.298, 1-FOR-2, HR, 3 RBI)

    Rays 1, Red Sox 5  Bot 4, 0 OutsJun 5 7:52 PM


  • AL
    AT BOSTON - SCORING UPDATE
    SACRIFICE FLY BY DUSTIN PEDROIA SCORED CHRIS CARTER.
    SITUATION: 1 RUN IN, J LUGO ON SECOND, 2 OUT
    CURRENT SCORE: TAMPA BAY 1
    BOSTON 4 BOTTOM, 2ND
    DUE UP FOR BOSTON: J DREW (.307, 1-FOR-1)

    Rays 1, Red Sox 4  Bot 2, 0 OutsJun 5 6:59 PM


  • AL
    AT BOSTON - SCORING UPDATE
    SINGLE BY JONNY GOMES SCORED WILLY AYBAR.
    SITUATION: 1 RUN IN, J GOMES ON FIRST, 2 OUT
    CURRENT SCORE: TAMPA BAY 1
    BOSTON 3 TOP, 2ND
    DUE UP FOR TAMPA BAY: J RUGGIANO (.250, 0 HR, 1 RBI)

    Rays 1, Red Sox 3  Top 2, 0 OutsJun 5 6:35 PM


  • AL
    AT BOSTON - SCORING UPDATE
    THREE-RUN HOME RUN BY MANNY RAMIREZ (13) TO LEFT WITH 1 OUT
    IN THE 1ST OFF JAMES SHIELDS SCORED DUSTIN PEDROIA AND J.D. DREW.
    CURRENT SCORE: TAMPA BAY 0, BOSTON 3
    DUE UP FOR BOSTON: M LOWELL (.283, 8 HR, 27 RBI)

    Rays 0, Red Sox 3  Bot 1, 0 OutsJun 5 6:18 PM