Just moments after the Detroit P.A. had announced the Yankees' 4-3 victory over Milwaukee, Boston Red Sox reliever Andy Hassler--a man who once lost 18 straight games--peered in on Tiger Jason Thompson with two on, the score tied, and the pennant fading fast. But in a gutty performance, Hassler and his kamikaze comrades held on and punched out a 5-4 win in 11 innings over the Motowners to stay alive in the A.L. East.
Hassler struck out Thompson and popped up Steve Kemp to escape from the frightening 10th, then mowed down the side in order in the final frame after Jerry Remy's two-out RBI single had provided the game-winner.
The victory kept the Bosox 21/2 games behind the storming Yankees, with 12 games remaining. The Bronx Bombers got back-to-back home runs from Lou Piniella and Reggie Jackson and a key eighth-inning infield single from Mickey Rivers to put the Brewers out to pasture, seven games out of first.
In the National League, Philadelphia stayed two games up on Pittsburgh as both teams were idle, while Kansas City and California played late games in the A.L. West.
But the Sox remain alive, though, it must be said, they have yet to break out of intensive care.
Detroit picked up all its runs on home run blasts--John Wockenfuss's two-runner in the second, the amazing Rusty Staub's solo shot in the fifth (both off starter Bobby Sprowl), and Steve Kemp's upper-deck ozone ball in the eighth (off Bob Stanley).
As for the Boston offense, the Red Sox played cat-and-mouse, creeping toward and sometimes into the lead, but never really taking command of the contest.
A Carlton Fisk sacrifice fly, a solo roundtripper off Dwight Evans's bat, and a two-run ICBM homer from Fred Lynn put Boston in the driver's seat with a 4-3 lead through the top of the eighth.
But Kemp changed things at that point, and the ballgame boiled down to a pitcher's duel. Boston's Stanley and Detroit's Steve Baker both looked sharp out of the bullpen, so the outcome hinged on which of the two would falter first.
Hassler saved Stanley with his rally-quashing stint, but Baker suffered a worse fate. A leadoff walk to Butch Hobson and a hit-and-run single by pinch-hitter (for George Scott) Jack Brohamer sent Baker to the showers after five innings of near-perfect work. With John Hiller on the mound for Detroit, Jason Thompson nearly killed the rally by gunning pinch-runner Frank Duffy at the plate with one out, but Mr. Remy coolly stroked his game-winning single to centerfield moments later.
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