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Manny not being Manny

Mannyplate_2Red Sox enter tonight's series opener against the Yankees in Fenway Park with their pitching staff doing a terrific job and their offense acting like a bunch of lightweights. The Sox lead the American League with a 2.58 ERA (Tim Wakefield is the league leader at 1.35) but they're batting just .249 and have only 12 home runs.

The big problem is a month-long no-show by slugger Manny Ramirez. He finally broke out Thursday with a game-tying two-run homer in the eighth inning -- his first of the season -- to help the Sox overcome the Blue Jays, 5-3. Ramirez pointed to the sky and hugged everyone he could find after circling the bases following his blast off Toronto reliever Shawn Marcum.

"He said, "Watch out. Manny's baaaaaaaack,' " said Red Sox pitcher Julian Tavarez.

"We'll all seen Manny take one swing and then get in a groove for a long time," said manager Terry Francona. "That would be tremendous.''

Thursday's game was the ninth straight in which the Sox have limited opponents to three or fewer runs, the staff's longest such streak since an 11-gamer in 1988. The pitching matchups for Yanks-Sox I: Andy Pettitte vs. Curt Schilling, Jeff Karstens vs. Josh Beckett, Chase Wright vs. Dice-K.

--Mike Harrington

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