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Schilling, Sox force Game 7

Boston is one win away from completing the unprecedented playoff comeback.
Wednesday, October 20, 2004 | 12:00 a.m. CDT; updated 9:57 p.m. CDT, Thursday, July 17, 2008

NEW YORK — Gritting his teeth and grimacing throughout, Curt Schilling willed away the pain in his right ankle and the Boston Red Sox got the benefit of two reversed calls to move within one win of the most shocking comeback in baseball postseason history.

For the second straight year, the New York Yankees and the Red Sox will go to a Game 7, a winner-take-all battle for the AL pennant between baseball’s perennial pinstriped power and a Boston team desperately trying to win the World Series for the first time since 1918.

Pitching on a dislocated ankle tendon that forced him out of the opener, Schilling smothered the Yankees by allowing one run in seven innings, leading the Red Sox past New York 4-2 Tuesday night and pulling Boston into a 3-3 tie in an AL championship series that was three outs from a sweep two days earlier.

New York was ahead 3-0 in the series before blowing a ninth-inning lead in Game 4 at Fenway Park and losing in the 12th Sunday night. The Yankees led Game 5 in the eighth Monday, then lost that one, too, another 5-hour marathon that stretched on for 14 innings.

Of the 25 previous major league teams that fell behind 3-0 in a best-of-seven series, none had forced a Game 7. But back in the Bronx, where they wasted a four-run lead in Game 7 last year, the Red Sox broke through with a four-run fourth against Jon Lieber.

The team trying to reverse The Curse benefited from two big reversed calls.

In the fourth, Mark Bellhorn hit a ball over the left-field wall that was at first ruled a ground-rule double before it was correctly changed to a three-run home run that made it 4-0.

Then in the eighth, after Miguel Cairo’s double and Derek Jeter’s RBI single off Bronson Arroyo pulled the Yankees to 4-2, Alex Rodriguez hit a ball between the mound and first. Arroyo picked it up and ran toward first, where just before the base the striding A-Rod slapped the ball away.

Jeter came all the way around to score as the ball bounced down the right-field line. After Boston manager Terry Francona came out to argue, the umpires huddled, discussed the play, then called Rodriguez out for interference and sent Jeter back to first.

Rodriguez raised both hands and put them on his helmet, screaming about the reversal and the game was held up for 10 minutes while fans tossed debris on the field and Yankees manager Joe Torre argued. Gary Sheffield then fouled out, ending the inning.

After Boston’s Orlando Cabrera was ruled safe at first base in the ninth, preventing the Yankees from completing a double play, public address announcer Bob Sheppard made his second announcement for fans to maintain order. The umpires talked with Kevin Hallinan, senior vice president of security in the commissioner’s office, as Yankees reliever Tanyon Sturtze warmed up.

Helmeted police then came on the field and kneeled in foul territory along the stands on both the left- and right-field sides in the top of the ninth.

Schilling, who accepted a trade to the Red Sox last fall for the express purpose of beating the Yankees, took a three-hit shutout into the seventh before allowing Bernie Williams’ solo home run on the 91st of his 99 pitches. Arroyo allowed the run in the eighth and Keith Foulke pitched the ninth.

After chasing the Yankees all summer and falling short in the AL East race for the seventh straight season, the wild-card Red Sox caught up to their old rival, an unexpected turn of events given how close Boston was to packing up for the winter 48 hours earlier.

Tim Wakefield starts for the Red Sox tonight, most likely against Kevin Brown or Javier Vazquez.


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