BOSTON – Reed Johnson hit a go-ahead two-run double in an error-filled, eight-run eighth inning Saturday night and the Chicago Cubs, wearing replica uniforms of their last series in Fenway Park in 1918, beat the Boston Red Sox, 9-3.

The Cubs’ last visit to the 99-year-old stadium before Friday night’s 15-5 loss was in the World Series 93 years ago. Chicago won the fifth game then, but Boston took the championship by winning Game 6.

The Red Sox had victory in sight again Saturday, leading 3-1. But Matt Albers failed to retire any of the six batters he faced in the eighth, and his teammates committed three errors in the inning.

Johnson entered the game as a pinch runner in the top of the second after Marlon Byrd was beaned. Byrd walked off under his own power.

The Red Sox spent about four hours in first place in the AL East when Tampa Bay lost to Florida, 5-3. Their first stay at the top this season marked a stunning turnaround for a team that began the season 2-10.

Then came the wild turn of events in the eighth that ended Boston’s winning streak at seven games.


Aramis Ramirez gave Chicago a 1-0 lead in the third with an RBI double. Boston went ahead on David Ortiz’s two-run homer, his ninth of the year, after Kevin Youkilis led off the fourth with a single. Jacoby Ellsbury’s run-scoring single made it 3-1 in the sixth against Carlos Zambrano before Sean Marshall (2-0) came in to end the inning.

Then Albers (0-2) relieved in the eighth, and Boston’s chances of winning faded fast.

Darwin Barney and Starlin Castro singled, and Ramirez walked, loading the bases. Carlos Pena then walked in a run before Johnson doubled to left, putting the Cubs ahead to stay. Alfonso Soriano followed with a pop fly to short left field where it bounced off shortstop Jed Lowrie’s glove for an error as Pena scored.

Franklin Morales, obtained Thursday from Colorado, relieved Albers, and his first pitch went for an RBI double by pinch-hitter Jeff Baker. Koyie Hill struck out, and Barney flew to right, where J.D. Drew’s catch was only the beginning of a bizarre play.

He threw home, and Soriano, who had tagged up, headed back to third. Catcher Jason Varitek’s throw ticked off third baseman Kevin Youkilis’ glove. Youkilis was charged with an error and left fielder Carl Crawford, who backed him up, threw wildly to home for another error as Soriano and Baker scored.

Castro followed with an RBI double, making it 9-3.


The Red Sox throwback uniforms were an off-white color with no team name on the front. The Cubs wore grey uniforms with blue pinstripes and the word “Cubs” on the left breast.

NOTES: Youkilis was hit by a pitch for the 72nd time, breaking a tie with Mo Vaughn for the Red Sox record. … Ortiz’s homer made him the fifth player to hit at least 300 with the Red Sox. The others are Ted Williams (521), Carl Yastrzemski (452), Jim Rice (382) and Dwight Evans (379). … Red Sox reliever Bobby Jenks is expected to throw his first bullpen session Monday since going on the disabled list May 5 with a strained right biceps. 

CHICAGO MANAGER Mike Quade said tonight’s series finale against the Red Sox may have a bit of preseason look after the scheduled starter, Matt Garza, was scratched with stiffness in his pitching elbow.

“The options are that it’s like a spring training game,” Quade said.

Quade said Garza felt fine after his side session two days ago before feeling some stiffness Friday.

“We’ve got to be careful with this guy,” Quade said.


Garza is expected to be checked out Monday. The club was uncertain who would start tonight, but Quade indicated that left-handed reliever James Russell was the leading candidate.

Russell pitched three shutout innings of relief in Friday night’s 15-5 loss.

“I’d say on Preakness Day, Russell’s the prohibitive favorite,” Quade said.

Garza (2-4), who won 15 games with Tampa Bay last season, was acquired in a trade during the offseason. He signed a $5.95 million, one-year deal with the Cubs in January, avoiding arbitration a week after being traded.

RUNNING IN place. That’s what the New York Yankees have been doing much of this season. It’s also what they did at the end of 2010.

From last August, including a postseason in which they kept with the pattern by winning one series and losing another, the Yankees are 58-53. That’s why it’s dangerous to view a recent 6-10 stretch as an aberration.


Just three seasons ago, the Yankees spent $209 million on salaries and missed the playoffs. That history is in danger of repeating itself.

Jorge Posada’s refusal to bat ninth and the increasing distance between Derek Jeter and the people he works for are only the tip of the iceberg in terms of what’s wrong in New York. The bigger concerns lie with the thin pitching staff, being held together by the muscle memory of Bartolo Colon and Freddy Garcia, and perhaps the sore right hip of Alex Rodriguez.

Despite unexpectedly strong work from Colon and Garcia (4-4 with a 2.99 ERA through their first 12 combined starts), the Yankees’ rotation entered the weekend 17th in the majors with a 4.01 ERA and 23rd with 2521/3 innings pitched.

The bullpen hasn’t been the lockdown machine that was expected after the addition of Rafael Soriano. Mariano Rivera, who hasn’t blown more than six saves since 1997, is on pace for 12. And Soriano had a 5.40 ERA when he went on the disabled list last week, saying the Yankees’ problems were more about “the hitters” than the bullpen.

Underlying all the malfunctions: Where’s Cliff Lee?

General Manager Brian Cashman is under pressure after having the innings-eating left-hander stolen away by the Rangers last July and the Phillies in the offseason. The Yankees’ biggest need is a strong No. 2 starter behind CC Sabathia. A.J. Burnett has been too inconsistent.

Young pitching is coming, as Hector Noesi, 24, showed Wednesday with four shutout innings to get the win in a 15-inning game in Baltimore debut. But can the Yankees remain patient in allowing left-hander Manny Banuelos and Felix Hernandez clone Dellin Betances to complete their development?

Or would Cashman reluctantly part with some of the future to help the 2011 team compete against the superior Red Sox, who also have pitching issues with John Lackey and Daisuke Matsuzaka out with elbow injuries, and the Rays, who are winning with starting pitching?


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