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Game-winning bunt a shock to Sox
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10/02/2003  4:05 AM ET 
Game-winning bunt a shock to Sox
Boston caught by the element of surprise in tough loss
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Ramon Hernandez surprised everyone with his game-winning bunt Wednesday. (George Nikitin/AP)
OAKLAND -- There was the element of surprise, of course. You just don't see someone try to bunt his way on with the bases loaded and two outs in extra innings.

Whoever wrote the book on baseball missed that one.

So, when Red Sox starter-turned-reliever Derek Lowe threw his second pitch to Athletics catcher Ramon Hernandez in the bottom of the 12th inning at Network Associates Coliseum, he was ready for just about anything.

He wasn't ready for what happened.

Hernandez placed a terrific bunt towards third base and even if Bill Mueller could have fielded the ball cleanly, which he didn't, everyone would have been safe. It didn't matter as Eric Chavez sprinted home with the run that gave the AL West champions a 5-4 victory over the Wild Card Red Sox and a 1-0 lead in the best-of-five series.

"In that situation, especially, on an 0-and-1 count, the last thing you are thinking is that he is going to put down a bunt," Lowe said. "But in the postseason, sometimes you have to take chances. If it doesn't work, they probably ask, 'What in the world are you doing?' But it worked so it was a great play."

Some would say a brilliant play.

Mueller said he was caught by surprise.

"It was a surprising play and everything has to go just right to pull it off. I'm sure he wasn't trying to hit the edge of the plate, but it was a brilliant play on his part and it worked."
-- Jason Varitek

"All you can do is see if you can get an out, somewhere," he said. "There are a lot of options to defend in that situation and you hope that you cover them all. That (bunt) is not very high on the list. I can't remember ever seeing something like that."

Catcher Jason Varitek called it, "a great bunt. It hit the edge of the plate and took a nice, high, long bounce. It was a surprising play and everything has to go just right to pull it off. I'm sure he wasn't trying to hit the edge of the plate, but it was a brilliant play on his part and it worked."

The game-ending surprise came after Lowe walked the bases loaded, issuing an intentional pass to Terrence Long, to put an Athletic on every base.

"He has a history of bunting," Red Sox manager Grady Little said of Hernandez, "and he got one right there."

Hernandez might as well have hit a game-ending grand slam. Except this might have been more exciting.

"You know what? I looked over there (at third base coach Ron Washington) when I took the first pitch and he gave me a sign like the third baseman was playing deep. I took a look and he was pretty deep.

"The first thing that came through my mind was if I get it down the third-base line, I have a good chance to be safe. Sometimes you have to take chances."

In the quiet visiting clubhouse, Boston second baseman Todd Walker, the offensive star with two home runs and two singles before being lifted for defensive purposes in the eighth inning, said, "This is the second time in my lifetime I have seen a two-out bunt win a game. And I have seen well over 1,000 games.

"You have to hand it to him, it was a great play."

Walker said the only other time he witnessed a walk-off bunt came when he played for the Twins and Paul Molitor beat Oakland's Dennis Eckersley.

But that one paled in comparison to this one.

"That was a regular-season game," Walker said.

Jim Street is a reporter for This story was not subject to approval by Major League baseball or its clubs.

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