Even slugger David Ortiz, with all those game-winning hits in his career, thought the Boston Red Sox were just about finished.
He was wrong.
Trailing by five runs with one out and none on in the ninth inning, Boston pulled off an improbable rally to beat the Baltimore Orioles 6-5 on Sunday at Fenway Park.
Baltimore starter Jeremy Guthrie carried a three-hit shutout into the ninth, but was lifted after catcher Ramon Hernandez dropped a popup for an error that became the turning point. The Red Sox took advantage, getting four hits, and three walks against Danys Baez and Chris Ray (3-3).
``At one point, it seems like we had no chance,'' said Ortiz, who doubled in Boston's first run. ``In the ninth, 5-0, fly ball, catcher misses it, and that was the difference in the game. Everybody started going crazy.''
Oakland wouldn't quit in the ninth inning, either.
Jack Cust homered for the fourth straight day, capping a five-run outburst with a three-run drive that gave the Athletics a 10-7 victory over the visiting Cleveland Indians.
It was Cust's sixth homer in seven games since he was acquired from San Diego on May 3 in a little-noticed deal for a player to be named or cash. But with Mike Piazza on the disabled list, the A's called up Cust to be their regular designated hitter. His six homers in his first 26 at-bats with the team is an Oakland record.
``It's unbelievable,'' teammate Mark Ellis said. ``I've been hitting behind him these last couple of games. His swing is so powerful. The way the ball jumps off his bat is incredible. It's been fun to watch, and he's been huge for us. He's really impressive.''
In other AL games, it was: Seattle 2, New York 1; Texas 7, Los Angeles 6; Minnesota 16, Detroit 4; Kansas City 11, Chicago 1; and Tampa Bay 2, Toronto 1.
Nursing a 7-5 lead, Cleveland closer Joe Borowski retired his first two batters in the ninth and got an 0-2 count on Eric Chavez. But Chavez singled and Milton Bradley tied the score with a home run against his former team.
``I love being in those situations,'' Bradley said. ``I have all the confidence in the world. I'd be lying if I said I didn't have a little extra incentive doing it against the Indians.''
Dan Johnson and Bobby Crosby followed with consecutive singles that chased Borowski (0-2), who blew his second save in 14 opportunities. Cust greeted Fernando Cabrera with his game-ending shot to left on a 1-0 pitch.
``I'm just trying to take advantage of the opportunity and make a contribution somehow,'' Cust said.
Chavez's solo homer in the seventh off Tom Mastny started Oakland's comeback. Crosby also hit a solo home run.
At Boston, Jason Varitek hit a two-run double off Ray to cut it to 5-4. One out later, he and Eric Hinske scampered home when Ray dropped the toss at first base on Julio Lugo's RBI infield single, which could have been a game-ending groundout.
Ray was charged with an error that allowed Hinske to score the winning run. It was Ray's third blown save of the season.
Orioles manager Sam Perlozzo took full responsibility for yanking Guthrie after 91 pitches, a move that obviously backfired.
``Well, this was only his second start,'' Perlozzo said. ``He wanted to stay in, but that was definitely my decision. My decision. We didn't make a couple of plays that we should have. Game should have been over.''
The rally saved Josh Beckett from his first loss of the year. He left after four innings with a torn flap of skin on his right middle finger, failing to become the first eight-game winner in the major leagues and tie the franchise record _ held by Babe Ruth and two others _ for wins to start a season.
``My skin broke and it just ripped more and more each pitch,'' Beckett said. ``Hopefully, I can make my next start. But that is a big 'hopefully.'''
Mariners 2, Yankees 1
At Seattle, Horacio Ramirez (3-2) pitched effectively into the seventh inning and four relievers stymied New York.
The Mariners pieced together just enough offense to take two of three in the series, never scoring more than three runs in any game. Raul Ibanez had an RBI single in the third and Jose Lopez's sacrifice fly an inning later provided all the offense Ramirez needed.
Rookie reliever Brandon Morrow struck out Alex Rodriguez with two on to end the eighth. J.J. Putz fanned three in the ninth for his ninth save. Andy Pettitte (2-2) pitched 7 1-3 strong innings but the Yankees fell a season-high eight games behind first-place Boston in the AL East.
Rangers 7, Angels 6
At Arlington, Texas, Nelson Cruz hit a solo home run, his first of the season, in the ninth inning off Scot Shields (0-2) to give the Rangers their first victory over Los Angeles this year after five straight losses.
Eric Gagne (1-0) worked a scoreless ninth for his first win since June 10, 2005, with the Dodgers. Ian Kinsler, Hank Blalock and Brad Wilkerson also homered for Texas.
Gary Matthews Jr. homered twice and drove in four runs for the Angels against his former team. He connected from both sides of the plate. Shea Hillenbrand and Mike Napoli hit consecutive homers in the fourth for Los Angeles.
Twins 16, Tigers 4
At Minneapolis, Torii Hunter homered twice, drove in a career-high seven runs and the Twins ended a four-game losing streak.
Emergency starter Virgil Vasquez (0-1) gave up six runs and nine hits in 2 2-3 innings in his major league debut for Detroit.
Michael Cuddyer went 3-for-6 with a homer and four RBIs and Mike Redmond also went deep.
Boof Bonser (1-1) gave up six hits, four runs and three walks in five innings.
Royals 11, White Sox 1
At Chicago, David DeJesus tied a career high with four hits and Jorge De La Rosa (4-3) pitched three-hit ball for seven innings, helping Kansas City beat the White Sox for the first time in six tries this season.
Mark Teahen's three-run homer in the fifth off Javier Vazquez (2-2) broke a 1-all tie, and the Royals matched their season high for runs and hits (15). Chicago had its four-game winning streak snapped.
Devil Rays 2, Blue Jays 1
At Toronto, Shaun Marcum pitched six hitless innings in his first start of the season for the Blue Jays, then came out of the game. Carlos Pena got Tampa Bay's first hit with a tiebreaking homer off Jason Frasor (1-2) in the seventh, and the Devil Rays stopped a season-high six-game losing streak.
Making his first start this year after 13 relief appearances, Marcum struck out seven and walked three. He left after 78 pitches. He was starting because Victor Zambrano has a strained forearm.
Jae Seo (2-3) gave up only two hits and struck out a season-high seven in seven innings to win for the first time in four starts. Al Reyes earned his 11th save in 11 chances.