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Sunday, October 21, 2007

Glory, heartbreak to be had in Game 7

American League's World Series berth to be decided at Fenway
By Jason Beck / MLB.com

BOSTON -- This is what this postseason was waiting for.
After five series that went a combined one game over the minimum, the Indians and Red Sox are going the distance.

"When you're in a fist fight and your back is to the wall, that's a pretty good position to be in," said Indians outfielder Trot Nixon, who experienced an American League Championship Series Game 7 in back-to-back seasons with Boston in 2003 and '04. "The Red Sox were there the past few days, and now both teams are."

Either Beantown or Cleveland is going to have a glorious chapter added to its sports history. The other is going to have a heavy helping of heartbreak. Both cities have no shortage of material on either side.

For every key LeBron James bucket that sent Cleveland to the NBA Finals last summer, there's the image of Edgar Renteria's walk-off single in Florida, or Michael Jordan's winning shot, or Earnest Byner fumbling near the goal line in the final minutes.

Cleveland has Tony Pena and Tony Fernandez, both of whom hit clutch LCS home runs, but the city also has The Drive.

Boston has Bucky Dent and Aaron Boone. But Beantown also has David Ortiz's two-run homer in Game 7 of the '04 ALCS, Adam Vinatieri's Super Bowl-winning field goals, and that Larry Bird steal and pass to beat the Pistons in the NBA's Eastern Conference Finals 20 years ago.

On one side or the other, this game is going to join those ranks. The momentum swings that shaped the last six games of the ALCS have all led to this.

"Hey, it's going to come down to Game 7 against the two teams that won more baseball games than anybody in the regular season, two teams that have beat up on each other a little bit over the course of the past week," Indians manager Eric Wedge said. "And that's the way it should be. It's something everyone should look forward to."

The Red Sox certainly do. As manager Terry Francona reasoned, they're just glad to still be playing.

After standing on the brink of elimination the last two games, the Red Sox forced the first Game 7 at Fenway Park since the 1986 ALCS, when they finished off a comeback of three straight victories to beat the Angels. However, that's the only Game 7 the Red Sox have won at home; they dropped the deciding games of the 1975 and 1967 World Series here.

The only Game 7 Cleveland has faced in modern history, of course, came in the '97 World Series, when Renteria's single completed a late-inning Marlins comeback to win the game in extra innings. The only Game 7 the Indians have won in their history came in 1920, when Tris Speaker's club won five games over Brooklyn back when the World Series was a best-of-nine showdown.

If the Indians win Sunday, they'll become just the fifth team in LCS history to recover from a Game 6 loss to take Game 7. On the other hand, the Cardinals pulled off the feat last year when they fended off the Mets in the NLCS.

For teams that lose Games 5 and 6, winning Game 7 in the LCS is even rarer. Neither those '96 Cardinals nor the 2003 Cubs could do it, leaving the '92 Braves as the last to pull it off when Francisco Cabrera drove in Sid Bream to complete a ninth-inning rally.

As for home-field advantage, there is none. The home team is 7-5 in Game 7 of the LCS since it became a best-of-seven format in 1985.

Report: Indians' Byrd bought HGH, syringes from Florida clinic

By TOM WITHERS, AP Sports Writer
October 21, 2007

BOSTON (AP) -- Cleveland pitcher Paul Byrd, whose win in Game 4 of the ALCS moved the Indians within one victory of the World Series, bought nearly $25,000 worth of human growth hormone and syringes from 2002 to 2005, the San Francisco Chronicle reported Sunday.

Byrd, known for his old-school windup and savvy on the mound, purchased the HGH from a Palm Beach, Fla., anti-aging clinic under investigation by authorities for possible illegal distribution of performance-enhancing drugs, the paper said.

The allegations against Byrd came as the Indians prepared to play the Boston Red Sox in Game 7 of the AL championship series at Fenway Park on Sunday night. Cleveland led the series 3-1 after Bryd's Game 4 win but have lost two straight.

Byrd arrived at the ballpark about fours before the start of the game. He walked to Cleveland's clubhouse with teammates David Dellucci and Trot Nixon. Byrd planned to speak to the media before the game.

"I'm going to talk to my team first," he said.

During the time of the alleged purchases, the pitcher was with the Kansas City Royals, Atlanta Braves and the Los Angeles Angels. HGH was not banned by baseball then and was added to the sport's list of prohibited substances in 2005.

Major League Baseball said it will speak to Byrd before the start of the World Series, if Cleveland advances.

"We will investigate the allegations concerning Paul Byrd as we have players implicated in previous similar reports," the league statement said.

Also accused of buying HGH: Los Angeles Angels outfielder Gary Matthews, St. Louis outfielder Rick Ankiel and Texas Rangers infielder Jerry Hairston Jr.

Byrd, a 36-year-old devout Christian, has publicly denied using steroids in the past.

Indians general manager Mark Shapiro has spoken with Byrd about the matter, adding he didn't have enough information to comment further.

"He has been an important member of this organization -- on and off the field -- over the last two years and we support him in this process," Shapiro said in a statement.

Byrd won Game 4 for the Indians at Jacobs Field on Tuesday. In the AL playoffs, he earned the victory in Cleveland's Game 4 series-clinching win over the New York Yankees.

According to the Chronicle, which reviewed the clinic's business records, Byrd used his credit card and spent $24,850 on more than 1,000 vials of HGH, an injectable prescription drug with muscle-building properties. He also bought hundreds of syringes.
The Chronicle said it reviewed records of shipping orders and payment information on Byrd such as his Social Security number. The records were provided to the paper by an unidentified source.

Based on the paper's review, Byrd had some shipments sent to his home in Alpharetta, Ga., $1,050 worth of syringes and HGH to the Braves' spring training facility in Kissimmee, Fla., and a $2,000 order to the Grand Hyatt Hotel in New York, when the Braves were in town to play the Mets.

The Palm Beach Rejuvenation Center, the clinic where Byrd made the alleged purchases, is part of a network of anti-aging clinics and online pharmacies targeted by the Albany, N.Y., district attorney for alleged illegal sales of steroids and growth hormone.

Citing an anonymous law enforcement source, the Chronicle said two of the prescriptions Byrd used to buy the growth hormone were written by a Florida dentist. The dentist's license was suspended in 2003 for fraud and incompetence. Byrd was slowed by an elbow injury in 2003, and records show he made six purchases of HGH.

Byrd went 15-8 with a 4.59 ERA this season, his second with the Indians. He signed him to a two-year, $14 million free agent contract in December 2005, and Cleveland holds a club option on the right-hander for 2008.

After shoulder surgery in 2002, Byrd began toying with a double-pump windup favored by pitchers from decades ago. He found that the arm-swinging motion helped him better hide the ball from hitters, and the windup became his signature.

Byrd, who has a 97-61 career record, relies on location and off-speed pitches to get outs. Following Game 4, Byrd, who is listed at 6-foot-1 and 190 pounds, joked about finding some extra speed on his fastball.

"I hit 90 mph," he said, "which happens a few times a year."

Red Sox 12, Indians 2 - One More Game Sunday - Game 7

What is it about the Boston Red Sox that they seem to pull victory from the jaws of defeat? Will they do it again?

BOSTON (ESPN) -- The ball cleared the center field wall, and J.D. Drew raised his fist in celebration.

A grand slam.

A curtain call.

And better yet: A chance to do it again in Game 7.

The struggling Red Sox right fielder drove in five runs, backing yet another postseason gem from Curt Schilling on Saturday night as Boston battered the Cleveland Indians 12-2 to tie the AL Championship Series at three games apiece.

Cleveland's 1-2 punch of C.C. Sabathia and Fausto Carmona haven't come close to acing this ALCS test. With Carmona's Game 6 loss, the duo falls to a combined 0-3 vs. the Red Sox.

"Hey, it's going to come down to Game 7, the two teams that won more baseball games than anybody in the regular season, two teams that have beat each other up over the course of the past week," Indians manager Eric Wedge said. "And that's the way it should be. It's something everybody should look forward to."

Baseball and its fans are certainly looking forward to it in a postseason where four of the first five series ended in sweeps.
"There's nothing, I think, funner in sports than a Game 7," Schilling said.

Schilling improved his career postseason record to 10-2, allowing two runs and six hits in seven innings.

Fausto Carmona failed to get anybody out in the third inning, giving up seven runs on six hits and four walks.

After failing to get a victory from co-aces C.C. Sabathia and Carmona, the Indians hope Jake Westbrook can save them on Sunday night.

The Red Sox turn to Daisuke Matsuzaka, who couldn't make it through the fifth inning in either of his previous postseason starts.

A third consecutive victory -- on the anniversary of Carlton Fisk's extra-inning homer in Game 6 of the 1975 World Series -- would put Boston back in the Series for the first time since 2004, when it rallied from a 3-0 deficit in the ALCS en route to its first title in 86 years. The Red Sox also came back from a 2-0 deficit against the Indians in the first round of the 1999 playoffs.

"It just has to stop, and it has to stop tonight," Wedge said. "They need to go to bed tonight with clear heads and think clear thoughts and come here tomorrow expecting to win."

After stumbling in his previous outing, Schilling came back to show why he is considered one of the best postseason pitchers in baseball history. He gave up Victor Martinez's solo homer in the second inning and otherwise held the Indians scoreless until Ryan Garko tripled and scored on Jhonny Peralta's sacrifice fly in the seventh.

By that time, it was already 10-2.

Schilling got Kenny Lofton on a grounder and former teammate Trot Nixon on a fly ball to end the seventh, then left to a standing ovation. He took his hat off -- twice -- and waved up at the box where his wife and family sit.

"This was about our offense just doing a phenomenal job," Schilling said. "J.D. Drew is a special player. I'm sure he's not real proud of the year he had ... but he is the definition of 'even keel.' I mean, he doesn't snap. He doesn't get too high, too low. He just goes up and he plays the game. And tonight, that wins the game."

Drew has struggled to live up to the five-year, $70 million contract the Red Sox threw at him last winter even though no one else seemed interested in bidding. He was signed to protect David Ortiz and Manny Ramirez in the lineup, but manager Terry Francona dropped him from fifth to sixth in the lineup when he failed to deliver timely hits in the regular season.

Coming into the game, Drew was 0-for-6 with runners in scoring position, 1-for-11 in the two series combined and just .237 with a chance for an RBI in 2007 overall. When he came up with the bases loaded in the first inning against Carmona, he delivered.

Dustin Pedroia and Kevin Youkilis reached on infield singles, and Ortiz looked at six straight pitches for a walk. Ramirez struck out, then Mike Lowell was out on a shallow fly to right, not deep enough to score Pedroia.

All Carmona needed was to get Drew.

"He almost worked through that inning, and then J.D. got him," Wedge said. "And then things sort of dominoed on him. It just wasn't in the cards for us."

Drew hit a line drive into the camera box in straightaway center field to give Boston a 4-0 lead, raising one fist as he rounded the bases. Called back from the dugout by the same fans who had clamored for him to be replaced in the lineup, he gave a two-fisted wave.

"I've had a few of those in my career," Drew said. "None here so far. But it was great. I think the atmosphere was great.

"It has been a tough year, my expectations are high. I didn't have the year I would like to have, but I feel like I had a good September and started getting things turned around. Just wanted to go into the playoffs and have good at-bats."
Drew came up again in the third after Ramirez and Lowell walked to start the inning and singled to center to make it 5-0 and spark a six-run inning that essentially ended it.

But there was still time for one last redemption: Eric Gagne, the former star closer booed off the mound in previous postseason appearances, pitched a 1-2-3 ninth inning.

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