From the archives | June 14

Unlikely duo gives Red Sox a walkoff win

Jin Ho Cho went six innings and surrendered just two runs after starting for the Red Sox.
Jim Davis/Globe Staff
Jin Ho Cho went six innings and surrendered just two runs after starting for the Red Sox.

For all those Red Sox fans still picking themselves up off the floor this morning, Jeff Frye offers this.

``Well,’’ he said, ``we lift weights, too.’’

To which Darren Lewis, Frye’s fellow flyweight and partner in one of the most implausible pairs of home runs ever to close down Yawkey Way, added: ``Weird things happen in this game.’’


No. Fuchsia-colored hair is weird. Marilyn Manson is weird. Celebrity blood replacement is weird.

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But what Lewis and Frye did goes beyond the pale. A tandem that came into the ninth inning with a combined total of 35 home runs in 4,911 at-bats hit back-to-back homers for a walk-off 4-3 win over the Minnesota Twins and a stunning rescue of a team running out of lifeboats.

``About time our luck changed,’’ said Lewis, whose rainbow of a fly ball off Twins reliever Mike Trombley barely reached the Monster but hit nothing but net on the way down to tie the score at 3.

Six pitches later, Frye, who already had three singles, followed Lewis’s home run (his second of the season and first in 113 at-bats) with his first home run of 1999.

``For me,’’ Frye said, ``I have to hit every part of the ball to get a home run. Most home run hitters don’t have to hit it perfect. I do.’’


This one, which came in his 100th at-bat this season, was a blast projected at 400 feet into the screen in left-center field that staggered Trombley, shocked what was left of a crowd of 30,099 and sent Red Sox players streaming from the dugout in equal parts elation and amazement.

``I grew up in Massachusetts,’’ said Trombley, who was born in Springfield and went to high school in Wilbraham. ``So I know that when a ball gets in the air, you cringe.’’

Frye, who was playing only because regular second baseman Jose Offerman had been given the night off, had never hit a game-winning home run in pro ball.

``I think the last time must have been in junior college in Oklahoma,’’ he said. ``Come to think of it, I don’t think it was a game-winning home run. I think we were ahead, 9-0, the bases were loaded, and I hit a home run so we won by the 10-run rule. But it felt like a game-winning home run.’’

Both of Lewis’s home runs this season have come against the Twins, who have almost as many rookies on their roster (13) as Miss Gandy has first-graders but had taken a 3-2 lead into the ninth.


The Sox, who had scored just 15 runs in their previous seven games, managed just two through the first eight innings against the Twins, even though the only Minnesota pitcher with a pedigree, starter Brad Radke, was forced to leave the game with a bruised left knee after being struck by John Valentin’s line drive in the fifth inning.

Meanwhile, Kid Korea, Sox rookie Jin Ho Cho, allowed just two runs on six hits through six innings but is still looking for his first big league win. Cho was 0-3 with the Sox last season, his first in professional baseball. His callup, then as now, was an act of desperation. With Tom Gordon on the disabled list and Tim Wakefield drafted to be the new closer, the Sox needed a starter.

Cho left with Boston trailing, 2-1, and it didn’t help that Sox reliever Derek Lowe, continuing what has become a nasty habit, walked the first batter he faced, Chad Allen, who came around to score the Twins’ third run on a double by Jacque Jones. That pair had figured in the Twins’ first two runs. Jones doubled and scored on Marty Cordova’s double past Valentin in the first, and Allen homered off Cho in the second.

But all of that evaporated when Lewis and Frye went deep -- and, incredibly, made John Wasdin 6-0 for pitching the ninth.

``With the kind of pitching we got,’’ Frye said, ``this would have been tough to lose this game. Jin Ho came into a tough situation and kept us in the game.

``This is a good feeling. It’s no fun to lose. Trust me. We’re not having any fun when we go 1-5 on a road trip.

``We’re not in the playoffs yet. We’ve been struggling. Everybody knows that. This win came at a time when we desperately needed a win, probably for our psyche more than anything else.

``Hey, we’ll take it any way we can.’’

Weird, wild, wonderful. Take your pick.

``This eases the tension a little bit,’’ Lewis said. ``Guys can show up tomorrow and do what they’re capable of doing. You want to ride the wave, so to speak, as long as you can.

``We had a bad road trip, and we were down a little bit. It’s OK to be down, but it’s important that you don’t stay down. You always try to make a positive out of a negative.’’

And, sometimes, you make sluggers out of singles hitters.