Red Sox earn playoff berth

The Baltimore Sun

The World Series champion Boston Red Sox are back in the playoffs, thanks to a victory over the visiting Cleveland Indians last night that clinched at least a wild-card berth. Tim Wakefield (10-11) outpitched Cliff Lee (22-3) and midseason acquisition Jason Bay hit the go-ahead single as the Red Sox scored three times in the fifth inning to rally from a two-run deficit. With the win, the Red Sox stayed six games ahead of the Yankees in the wild-card race with five games left, ending New York's postseason hopes. Boston still has a chance to catch Tampa Bay in the American League East. Cleveland loaded the bases with two outs in the eighth before Jonathan Papelbon came on and, with his first pitch, got Jamey Carroll to ground out. Papelbon, who was on the mound when the Red Sox won the World Series last fall, retired the Indians in order in the ninth to record his 41st save. When Victor Martinez popped up to shortstop Alex Cora to end the game, the Red Sox poured out of their dugout and bullpen, hugging and slapping hands in the infield. They then retreated to the plasticized clubhouse for the traditional spraying of champagne. "A lot of guys went down, and we found a way to get into the playoffs to defend our title," second baseman Dustin Pedroia said in an on-field interview that was broadcast on the scoreboard to chants of "M-V-P!" "We have a chance to do what we did last year, and that's all we were looking for - an opportunity." Wakefield allowed four runs on six hits and a walk in six innings, striking out six.

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