Sports

Boston pops Oakland in 10 innings

Oakland's Mark Ellis (14) gets a high-five from teammate Daric Barton after homering off Boston starter Daisuke Matsuzaka in the first inning of Tuesday's opener in Tokyo.
Oakland's Mark Ellis (14) gets a high-five from teammate Daric Barton after homering off Boston starter Daisuke Matsuzaka in the first inning of Tuesday's opener in Tokyo. AP

TOKYO — Boston, Japan, it doesn't matter: Manny Ramirez strikes a winning pose for the Boston Red Sox.

In the earliest major-league opener, the Red Sox started their World Series title defense with a signature Manny moment.

Ramirez stood frozen in the batter's box, admiring his 10th-inning drive to center field off Huston Street, thinking it would be a three-run homer. Instead, the ball bounced off the wall for his second two-run double, good enough to lift the Red Sox over the Oakland Athletics 6-5 on Tuesday.

Daisuke Matsuzaka excited fans at the start, and Ramirez at the finish.

"Ultimately, it was a great ballgame," Matsuzaka said through a translator. "I hope people got a chance to enjoy it live."

A crowd of 44,628, including fans from Boston, cheered at the Tokyo Dome, which hosted baseball's opener for the third time in nine years.

Ramirez hit a tying, two-run double in the sixth inning, and rookie Brandon Moss hit an RBI single that gave Boston a 3-2 lead and chased Oakland starter Joe Blanton.

Matsuzaka, pitching in Japan for the first time since joining the Red Sox last season, left after five wild innings and 95 pitches, and Jack Hannahan's two-run homer off Kyle Snyder put Oakland ahead 4-3 in the sixth. Moss, playing because J.D. Drew hurt his back in batting practice, hit a solo homer in the ninth off Street (0-1).

In the 10th, Julio Lugo reached on an infield single leading off, Dustin Pedroia sacrificed, and David Ortiz was intentionally walked with two outs. Ramirez hit a drive to deep center to score Lugo and Ortiz.

Oakland manager Bob Geren made the key decision to walk Ortiz.

"They're both great hitters, and you have to pick one or the other," Geren said. "He got 0-2 and then got a pitch over the plate, and Ramirez took it deep."

In the bottom half, Jonathan Papelbon walked Daric Barton leading off and gave up a one-out RBI double to Emil Brown, who was tagged out in a rundown between second and third.

After two singles, Kurt Suzuki hit a game-ending groundout, giving Papelbon the save and sealing the win for Hideki Okajima (1-0), who used to pitch in the Tokyo Dome for the Yomiuri Giants.

Matsuzaka allowed two runs in the first, one on a homer by Mark Ellis.

SHORT HOPS — Giants outfielder Aaron Rowand left Tuesday's game against the Cubs with a lower right leg contusion after being hit by a pitch from Rich Hill in the third inning, but he's expected to play in today's game at Fresno. ... Joe Crede was given the starting third baseman job for the White Sox over Josh Fields, who will start the season at Triple-A Charlotte. ... The Red Sox activated first baseman Sean Casey and placed right-hander Josh Beckett (lower back strain) on the 15-day disabled list. ... The Padres exercised manager Bud Black's option for the 2009 season. ... Some fans who got up early to watch the A's-Red Sox season opener ended up seeing nothing because of problems at DirecTV. Technical difficulties at DirecTV blanked out NESN, the cable network that carries the Red Sox and ESPN2.

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