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Bellhorn helps Sox ring up victory
10/24/2004 2:11 AM ET
BOSTON -- His three-run shot in Game 6 of the American League Championship was huge. His Game 7 solo shot wasn't quite as dramatic, but it did increase his team's already large lead to an even more comfortable six runs.

But his two-run home run in Game 1 of the World Series? Without a doubt, the biggest of Mark Bellhorn's career thus far, because it won it for the Red Sox, who topped the Cardinals, 11-9, Saturday night at Fenway Park.

The home run arrived on a night when defensive gaffes and walks received most of the credit for the 20 runs scored between the two clubs, a handful by way of Red Sox errors. But it was a Cardinals miscue that led to Bellhorn's moment before a chilly 35,035 Boston faithful.

Edgar Renteria mishandled a Jason Varitek grounder with one out in the eighth, and Bellhorn, facing right-hander Julian Tavarez, took a 1-2 pitch and bounced it off Pesky's Pole -- the right-field foul pole, affectionately named after the former Red Sox infielder, Johnny Pesky.

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Bellhorn is quickly becoming as identifiable with his recent heroics as he was with the slump he suffered through the first part of the ALCS. He was 3-for-20 before his Game 6 homer, a drought that demoted him from the No. 2 hole to the bottom of the order.

Even then, Bellhorn never lost confidence, realizing that most hitters who go into slumps also break free of them, often sooner than later.

"I think we forget that the mind is a powerful thing, and sometimes we just lose our confidence," he said. "You know, these games, you want to win so bad that you sometimes put too much pressure on yourself, and that's when you start to struggle.

"You just got to battle through it, and that's kind of what I did. Everybody kept trying to pump me up and keep my confidence up because you never know what could happen or when you're needed."

On Saturday, Bellhorn was needed. And he delivered.

"He's been a very clutch player for us all year," Red Sox manager Terry Francona said. "He's hit a number of game-winning hits, home runs, clutch hits. And I know myself, the coaching staff, the other players, we all feel real good about him, that he's going to help us.

"You're not going to hit every game, and if you take him out and you don't play him, they are certainly not going to get hot. So we kept him in there and he's got some real big hits for us, and we expected him to."

Having found new life with the Red Sox in '04 after a rough 2003 spent with the Cubs and Rockies, Bellhorn takes nothing for granted, grateful that he was even in the position to win a World Series game with one swing of the bat.

"Unbelievable," he said. "If you asked me last year if I thought I was going to be in this spot, I would probably have to say no. I think last year, I really don't know what happened, but I think I got a lot stronger from it. And was able to, for future times, to go back on that and remember what I went through, and hopefully get over it quicker.

"I'm not here to try to be a hero. I'm here to try to win four games."

If he keeps this up, the Red Sox surely have to like their chances.

This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.