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07/01/07 12:08 AM ET
Rangers' moxie impresses skipper
Sosa, 'pen play key roles in comeback win over Red Sox
By T.R. Sullivan / MLB.com
BOSTON -- They are celebrating the 40th anniversary of the Impossible Dream at Fenway Park this season, but the Rangers were relishing the Improbable Victory on Saturday night. Plus a winning record for the month of June, which didn't look too promising after the Boston Red Sox jumped out to a four-run lead in two innings against struggling Rangers starter Robinson Tejeda. The Red Sox had Josh Beckett on the mound and he had only lost once this year before Saturday night. He'll soon be on his way to an All-Star Game, but now he'll be going with at least two losses. With Sammy Sosa leading the way and the bullpen terrific for five innings, the Rangers overcame their early steep odds and rallied for a 5-4 victory over the Red Sox. Sosa's one-out single in the fourth started a four-run rally and then he put the Rangers ahead for good with a home run off Beckett in the fifth inning. "This just shows you the quality of character in that clubhouse," manager Ron Washington said. "We never thought we were out of it. We just played baseball the way we have beem. We kept grinding and believing we had a chance until the ninth inning was over." Even the 1967 Red Sox, who won the "Impossible Dream" pennant with some great victories, would have to appreciate a comeback like this. The Rangers finish the month of June with a 14-12 record after going 9-20 in May. "Awesome," said outfielder Brad Wilkerson, who had a two-run double off the top of the center-field wall in the four-run fourth. "We fell down early, Tejeda was struggling and we were facing one of the toughest pitchers in the game. But this says a lot about our club the way we fight. We're making teams beat us, we're not beating ourselves." Four relievers made the comeback stand up. Ron Mahay pitched two scoreless innings to get the victory and then Joaquin Benoit, Akinori Otsuka and Eric Gagne closed it out with an inning each. "That was huge," shortstop Michael Young said. "The bullpen deserves all the credit. They did an incredible job. Against that lineup that's absolutely outstanding." Gagne had the toughest assignment. He came into the game in the ninth and had to face Kevin Youkilis, David Ortiz and Manny Ramirez. Youkilis had already homered earlier in the game off Tejeda. But Gagne retired him on a fly ball to right, then struck out Ortiz and got Ramirez on a grounder to Young. Gagne is now 9-for-9 in save opportunities with a 1.17 ERA on the season and has not allowed a run in 11 appearances in the road this season. There aren't many road stops though that are tougher than Fenway Park, especially when going up against the team with the best record in baseball. "To get a win like this, especially in this environment, this is a big confidence booster for us," Gagne said. "This is how you win as a team." The Rangers were also lauding the work of Tejeda even though he was threatening to make this a Red Sox win early right from the start. He barely even made it out of the second inning. Tejeda walked the first two batters he faced in the first, and they both ended up scoring to give the Red Sox a 2-0 lead. Youkilis then made it 4-0 with a two-run home run with two out in the second inning. A walk, hit batter and a walk followed to load the bases and Washington had Scott Feldman ready in the bullpen. But Tejeda escaped that jam by getting Mike Lowell on a fly to left, then got out of another jam in the third -- two on, one out -- by getting Duston Pedroia to hit into inning-ending double play. He also added a scoreless fourth despite one more walk after the Rangers had rallied to tie the game. "He was a bulldog," outfielder Marlon Byrd said. "He stayed in the game and he didn't give up. He kept plugging and we kept plugging for him." Tejeda left after four innings and is still just 1-4 with a 9.51 ERA in his last eight starts. But that was overlooked in the general gaiety of the evening. "After he gave up those four runs he battled hard," Washington said. "He showed some heart. He did have his best stuff but he fought hard. I was proud of him."
T.R. Sullivan is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.