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YANKEES, RED SOX COME STUMBLING INTO RING CEREMONY

The Yankees fittingly will be on hand when the Red Sox get their championship rings this afternoon. And Carl Pavano will be among them, even if his head is still ringing from Sunday.

Pavano accompanied the Yankees to Boston on Sunday night for the banner-raising party 86 years in the making today at Fenway (3 p.m., YES). But not before he spent much of Sunday's 7-2 loss to the Orioles at Columbia Presbyterian Hospital after he was knocked out of the game by a line drive off the side of his head by Melvin Mora in the third inning.

"I almost didn't run when I saw the ball hit him," said Mora, who found out during the game that Pavano apparently was OK. Mora had been hitless in his previous 19 at-bats.

"It happened so fast, I had to tell myself to run," he said. "I was just thinking maybe he was bleeding or something."

Pavano remained standing, reached for the right side of his head and immediately was taken out. Players on both teams called it a frightening spectacle.

"Tests showed there was a brain," he jokingly told to team spokesman Rick Cerrone after being diagnosed with a mild concussion.

Meanwhile, the last-place Red Sox limped home to receive their World Series rings. Today's game was to be the first game back for manager Terry Francona, who left the team after complaining of chest pains Wednesday before facing New York.

"We're excited to get back to Fenway," first baseman Kevin Millar said after a 4-3 loss to the Toronto Blue Jays dropped the Red Sox to 2-4. "It feels like we've been on the road since October."

"It's totally for the fans," captain Jason Varitek said. "We have a lot of baseball ahead of us and a lot of baseball to focus on. We have pitched well and we have hit well. We just haven't matched up yet."

The Orioles won two of three from the Yankees. After scoring five runs on 14 hits in losing two of three against the Oakland Athletics at Camden Yards, they had 24 runs and 43 hits against the Yankees.

"We were overmatched," Yankees Manager Joe Torre said.

Overmatched on both fronts. Baltimore pitcher Rodrigo Lopez (2-0), who was hit in the side by a ball off the bat of Hideki Matsui, allowed six hits in eight innings, struck out eight and walked two.

Jorge Posada might have cost the Yankees a chance to get back into the game in the fifth. He followed Giambi's single with a drive off the right-center-field fence but ended up with a single because he didn't run hard out of the batter's box. With second base open, Bubba Crosby grounded into a double play.

The Yankees had four hits in the inning but scored just once.

At Toronto, Orlando Hudson doubled home the winning run in the ninth off Mike Timlin (1-1) after the Red Sox rallied in the top half.

"I feel bad," Timlin said. "I feel like I let everybody down."

Miguel Batista (1-1) got the win despite blowing a save chance in the top of the ninth. He gave up a game-tying, two-run single to Edgar Renteria, who ended a 3-for-23 slump.

The ring ceremony was to begin around 2:05 p.m., about five minutes after the Yanks are scheduled to finish batting practice. How they planned to view the festivities remained a hot-button topic all weekend. Rodriguez indicated he has no plans to watch. Others expect a more raucous atmosphere than usual.

"I'm sure (the fans) will come up with something new for us," Derek Jeter said.

"Obviously, it's going to be a hostile environment, especially with them coming back on us (from 0-3 in the ALCS) and winning it all last year," Gary Sheffield said. "But I'm not interested in seeing their (the ring ceremony). If we had to run out there and stand on the line and were forced to watch it, that'd be one thing. But we'll just be trying to get ready to win a ballgame, especially after not playing our best ball this weekend."

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