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New faces key Sox; Gabbard, Ellsbury topple Rangers.

Byline: Bill Ballou

BOSTON - These are not your father's Red Sox, or your grandfather's, or probably not even your great-grandfather's.

These Sox have hit more triples than home runs in the last nine games, for one thing. For another, they have a guy on the roster who is so fast, he can score from second on a wild pitch before you can say Ty Cobb.

Things like that, and great pitching, will get you into first place every time.

Boston beat the Rangers last night, 7-3, to salvage a split of a four-game series with the worst team in the AL West. The way the Sox have been hitting lately, a split wasn't all that bad, and the way everyone else in the AL East has been losing, a split allows Boston to maintain a comfortable lead in the division.

The Sox's triple last night came from Eric Hinske, and at a most timely juncture. It was in the fifth inning, with the bases loaded, and turned a 4-3 lead into the 7-3 bulge that Boston maintained to the end of the night.

The fourth Red Sox run was scored in the bottom of the fourth by rookie Jacoby Ellsbury, who was at second with two outs when Rangers reliever Scott Eyre bounced a 55-footer in front of catcher Gerald Laird. The ball caromed over toward the Texas dugout; Ellsbury rounded third and never stopped running.

"I saw the wild pitch early," Ellsbury said, "and kind of rounded (third) like I was going second to home. I saw DeMarlo (Hale) waving me in as I came around.

"It's a hustle play, one where I made the right decision."

Ellsbury said he had gone from first to third on a wild pitch before in his career - obviously in the minors and college - but never second to home. It isn't the first time it's been done, but it was the first time a lot of people in Red Sox uniforms, or sitting at Fenway Park, had seen it.

"That was a treat to watch," manager Terry Francona said. "It's more than just the speed, it's instincts. His instincts are very impressive for a young player."

Ellsbury had a good night in general. He came up four times and was on base each time with two singles and two walks. He scored two runs.

With the exception of the Boston bullpen, which was perfect again, the major contributors to the victory were players who were not in the opening day lineup - Hinske, Ellsbury and starter Kason Gabbard. Hinske was, actually, the only one of that group even on the opening day roster. Ellsbury was in Double-A Portland, Gabbard in Pawtucket.

Gabbard worked 52/3 innings to improve to 2-0, but that record is a bit deceptive. He has an earned-run average of 5.79 and has given up 15 hits and 11 walks in 14 innings. Gabbard has walked 10 over nine innings in his last two starts.

"The thing about that is," he said, "I just try to be too fine with my two-seamer and, you know, obviously I get behind in counts, and then I throw my off-speed down in the zone, and you don't necessarily get that swing that you would in the minor leagues."

Gabbard hadn't given up a hit through four innings, then gave up three runs in the fifth. He walked Marlon Byrd, was reached for a single by Laird, then served up a three-run homer to Brad Wilkerson. That made it 4-3.

Hinske's triple went into the triangle and drove in Manny Ramirez and J.D. Drew, both of whom had walked, and Jason Varitek, who had singled. The triple came with two outs and was Hinske's first in a Red Sox uniform. In the last nine games, Boston batters have five triples, and just three home runs.

It was also the Sox's first extra-base hit with the bases loaded since June 3.

"It was big to get those runs back right away," Hinske said. "We haven't been hitting the ball very well lately, but that happens during a season."

Mike Timlin, Javier Lopez, Kyle Snyder and Hideki Okajima followed Gabbard to the mound. They combined to allow just two hits and didn't walk anyone.

Or allow anyone to score on a wild pitch.




CUTLINE: (PHOTO 1) Red Sox manager Terry Francona congratulates Jacoby Ellsbury after Ellsbury scored from second on a wild pitch in the fourth inning. (PHOTO 2) Boston's Dustin Pedroia delivers a two-run double during the third inning last night at Fenway Park.
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Title Annotation:SPORTS
Publication:Telegram & Gazette (Worcester, MA)
Date:Jul 3, 2007
Previous Article:Hurler given a hand in win.
Next Article:Little League honors `Red'.

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