BOSTON -- Neither a stranger to drama nor afraid of its glare, Curt Schilling saw the opportunity set out in front of him and he welcomed it.
"We're in first place, with five days left in the season. We have a winnable game sitting there; with the chance to be in first place all alone; with me on the mound," he said. "In my mind, that's a lock. And it hasn't been, and I haven't made it. That is probably the most frustrating thing."
After a victory over Toronto in the first game of the doubleheader put Boston in a tie atop the AL East, Schilling twice blew a three-run lead and Russ Adams hit a sacrifice fly to break an eighth-inning tie and help the Blue Jays to a 7-5 victory in the nightcap.
When the Yankees lost 17-9 to the Baltimore Orioles, New York and Boston were left tied with five games remaining.
The Red Sox and Yankees are 92-65, also tied with Cleveland atop the wild-card standings. Tuesday's results guaranteed that the AL East title will be up for grabs when New York comes to Fenway Park for a three-game series this weekend to close the season.
"We'd be kidding ourselves if this weekend wasn't going to determine the outcome of this season," Boston outfielder Johnny Damon said. "It's going to come down to this weekend. It's the master plan. God's way. Yankees-Red Sox. We just need to win some games before that series starts."
Tim Wakefield pitched seven strong innings to give Boston a 3-1 victory in the day game. But with the Fenway fans paying as much attention to the Yankees' game in Baltimore as the one in front of them, the Red Sox ended their four-game winning streak.
"It's fun to make it interesting for the Red Sox-Yankees pennant race," said Aaron Hill, who had two hits, two runs and sacrificed himself twice in the late innings. "We're a big team this week."
Boston led 3-0 and 5-2 before the Blue Jays tied it in the seventh. Chad Bradford (2-1) came in with the bases loaded and struck out Shea Hillenbrand -- his sixth strikeout in a row -- and induced Eric Hinske to ground out to end the inning.
But Gregg Zaun led off the eighth with a walk and Reed Johnson singled, then Hill moved them up with a sacrifice bunt. Red Sox rookie Craig Hansen relieved Bradford and Adams hit a medium fly ball to right that was deep enough to make it 6-5.
Toronto loaded the bases but Damon was able to get to Corey Koskie's long fly ball to center field to end it. The Blue Jays loaded the bases again in the ninth before Hill lofted a fly to right to make it 7-5.
Edgar Renteria had five hits on the day, and Ortiz had three RBI to bring his major league-leading total to 143.
Schilling allowed five runs on 10 hits and a walk, striking out eight in 6 1/3 innings for his third consecutive no-decision. He is scheduled to start the season finale against the Yankees -- a game that could decide the division title.
"If it comes down to my final start of the season, that's going to probably be whether we go to the postseason or not, so it doesn't matter how I feel about where I am," Schilling said. "I have to be there."
|David Ortiz isn't happy after making the final out. Big Papi's RBI gives him 143, which leads the majors. (AP)|
|Players of the Game|
Toronto Blue Jays Flashlight Keychain
$2.95 Shop Now!
|Toronto Blue Jays|
|Russ Adams, SS||5||1||2||1||0||0||3||.252|
|Frank Catalanotto, LF||5||0||4||1||0||0||1||.290|
|Alex Rios, RF||0||0||0||0||0||0||0||.261|
|Vernon Wells, CF||3||0||1||2||1||1||1||.270|
|Corey Koskie, 3B||3||1||1||0||2||1||4||.252|
|Shea Hillenbrand, 1B||4||1||0||0||1||4||7||.291|
|Eric Hinske, DH||5||0||1||0||0||1||4||.256|
|Gregg Zaun, C||4||2||1||2||1||0||2||.256|
|Reed Johnson, RF-LF||4||0||1||0||0||2||0||.271|
|Aaron Hill, 2B||3||2||2||1||0||0||0||.272|
|2B - Frank Catalanotto (26, Schilling), Eric Hinske (27, Harville)|
|HR - Gregg Zaun (11, Schilling)|
|SF - Russ Adams (8), Vernon Wells (8), Aaron Hill (4)|
|SH - Aaron Hill (3)|
|RBI - Russ Adams (63), Frank Catalanotto (45), Vernon Wells 2 (94), Gregg Zaun 2 (61), Aaron Hill (40)|
|2-OUT RBI - Gregg Zaun 2 (21)|
|SB - Russ Adams (10, 2nd base off Schilling/Varitek), Vernon Wells (7, 2nd base off Myers/Varitek)|
|Team LOB - 12|
|DP - R. Adams-Hill-Hillenbrand, Hill-R. Adams-Hillenbrand|
|Toronto Blue Jays|
|Jason Frasor (W,3-5)||1.1||0||0||0||0||2||0||3.27|
|Justin Speier (H,11)||1||0||0||0||1||1||0||2.57|
|Scott Schoeneweis (H,21)||0.1||0||0||0||0||1||0||3.42|
|Miguel Batista (S,31)||0.2||0||0||0||0||0||0||4.00|
|Pitches-Strikes - Gustavo Chacin 28-22|
|Ground Balls-Fly Balls - Gustavo Chacin 5-6, Shaun Marcum 3-2, Jason Frasor 1-1, Justin Speier 1-0, Miguel Batista 2-0|
|Batters Faced - Gustavo Chacin 21, Shaun Marcum 8, Jason Frasor 4, Justin Speier 3, Scott Schoeneweis 1, Miguel Batista 2|
|Boston Red Sox|
|Johnny Damon, CF||5||1||3||1||0||1||0||.316|
|Edgar Renteria, SS||5||1||3||3||0||0||1||.278|
|David Ortiz, DH||5||0||1||1||0||1||3||.295|
|Manny Ramirez, LF||3||0||1||0||1||0||1||.289|
|Jason Varitek, C||4||0||0||0||0||1||3||.281|
|Kevin Millar, 1B||4||0||1||0||0||0||2||.274|
|Bill Mueller, 3B||4||1||1||0||0||1||1||.298|
|Trot Nixon, RF||3||1||1||0||1||0||0||.286|
|Tony Graffanino, 2B||4||1||1||0||0||0||3||.308|
|2B - Johnny Damon (35, Chacin), Edgar Renteria (35, Chacin), Trot Nixon (29, Chacin)|
|RBI - Johnny Damon (75), Edgar Renteria 3 (68), David Ortiz (143)|
|Team LOB - 7|
|PB - Jason Varitek (7)|
|Boston Red Sox|
|Chad Bradford (L,2-1)||1||1||1||1||1||1||0||3.97|
|HBP - Johnson (by Chad Harville)|
|Pitches-Strikes - Curt Schilling 48-31|
|Ground Balls-Fly Balls - Curt Schilling 3-8, Chad Bradford 2-0|
|Batters Faced - Curt Schilling 30, Mike Myers 1, Chad Bradford 5, Craig Hansen 4, Chad Harville 4, Jeremi Gonzalez 2|
|Attendance - 35476|
|Game Time - 3:42|
|Temperature - 66|
|Umpires - Home - Bill Welke, First Base - Tim Welke, Second Base - Gary Cederstrom, Third Base - James Hoye|