Ramirez outduels Mussina in Red Sox win

NEW YORK, Reuters

A classic duel between Boston’s Manny Ramirez and New York pitcher Mike Mussina was the highlight of the Red Sox’s 8-3 victory over their arch-rivals on Saturday.

Ramirez came out on top with a single in an 11-pitch battle with the righthander to spark a four-run fourth inning that propelled Boston to the win.

Boston’s prized free-agent acquisition this winter singled to left field leading off the fourth and Mussina quickly crumbled as the Red Sox turned a 3-2 deficit into a 6-3 lead.

Mussina (1-2) did not walk a batter for the third straight start and struck out five but surrendered six runs in four innings. He departed in favour of Adrian “El Duquecito” Hernandez, who allowed a run and two hits over three innings in his major league debut.

Frank Castillo (2-1) beat New York for the second time in six days, yielding three runs and six hits in five innings.

In Chicago, the Minnesota Twins just can’t stop winning and are off to their best start in 29 years.

Home runs from Torii Hunter and Corey Koskie contributed to the Twins’s 4-3 win over the Chicago White Sox.

At 13-3, the Twins are 10 games over .500 for the first time in almost nine years.

Eric Milton (3-0) threw seven innings for the win, allowing three runs and seven hits with one strikeout.

LaTroy Hawkins pitched a scoreless ninth to remain perfect in 18 save opportunities since becoming the team’s closer last season.

In Cleveland, Jim Thome returned to form with a bang, belting a two-run homer off closer Todd Jones with one out in the bottom of the 11th inning as the Cleveland Indians defeated the Detroit Tigers, 5-4, for their fifth straight victory.

Detroit broke through in the top of the 11th against Ricky Rincon to take a 4-3 lead before the Indians rallied for the win.

Steve Reed (1-1), who got the final two outs in the top of 11th, recorded the win.

In St. Petersberg, Florida, the Tampa Bay Devil Rays new manager Hal McRae got his first win Saturday as his team took a three-run lead into the ninth inning and hung on for a 6-5 victory over the Baltimore Orioles.

The Devil Rays snapped a five-game losing streak behind a solid start by Ryan Rupe (1-2), who allowed three runs and eight hits in six innings.

In Seattle, Jamie Moyer allowed a run and three hits in five innings as the Mariners posted a 5-2 triumph over the Anaheim Angels.

Moyer walked two and struck out two in improving to 3-0.

The Mariners have won all four of his starts and the 38-year-old lefthander has rebounded from a disappointing 2000 campaign in which he went 13-10 with a 5.49 ERA.

In Saturday’s other games, the Kansas City Royals needed 13 innings to overcome the Toronto Blue Jays 5-4, and the Oakland Athletics held on to defeat the Texas Rangers 7-6.

Rigdon cuts Giants down to size SAN FRANCISCO, Reuters The Milwaukee Brewers won for the first time at Pac Bell Park on Saturday as they overcame the San Francisco Giants 6-3.

The Brewers were led by pitcher Paul Rigdon, who tossed seven solid innings, and Jose Hernandez, who homered and drove in two runs.

Rigdon (2-0) allowed three runs and six hits while striking out two as Milwaukee recorded its first victory in five attempts at Pac Bell.

The 25-year-old righthander had little difficulty against a depleted San Francisco lineup and also picked up his first two hits of the season off Giants starter Mark Gardner (0 2).

In Cincinnati, the New York Mets took advantage of four errors to beat the Cincinnati Reds 5-2.

Todd Zeile’s two-run single capped a four-run third and Kevin Appier pitched 6 2/3 innings as the Mets snapped a five-game losing streak against the Reds.

In Pittsburgh, Todd Hundley hit two home runs and lifted the Chicago Cubs to their fifth straight victory over the Pittsburgh Pirates, 4-3.

After the Pirates rallied to tie it in the bottom of the eighth, Hundley whacked a 0-1 delivery from Mike Williams (1-1) into the right-field stands for his second home run of the year.

In Houston, two home runs from J.D. Drew and seven strong innings from Matt Morris helped St. Louis Cardinals cruise to a 9-2 victory over the Houston Astros.

Morris (2-2) allowed just two runs and five hits with a walk and nine strikeouts, while Gene Stechschulte and Mike Timlin each tossed a scoreless inning to close out the victory.

In Miami, Brad Penny threw a four-hitter for his first career shutout as the Florida Marlins blanked the Expos, 5-0.

The game was over in just one hour 54 minutes, matching the fastest game in franchise history.

Penny (1-0) retired nine of the the first 10 batters he faced and had a career-high eight strikeouts with two walks.

Expos starter Mike Thurman (1-3) took the loss, allowing all five runs and six hits over seven innings.

In Philadephia, Travis Lee homered and scored two runs as the Philadelphia Phillies posted a 4-1 victory over a disappointing Atlanta Braves.

Atlanta had at least one runner on base in every inning, but stranded 14 and was held under five runs for the 13th consecutive game.

Lee hit a solo home run in the fourth inning and scored in the seventh on an RBI single by pinch hitter Rob Ducey.

In Saturday’s other games, the Arizona Diamondbacks pounded the Colorado Rockies 10-5, and the Los Angeles Dodgers downed the San Diego Padres 4-2.