Manny Delcarmen was nibbling around the corners with the bases loaded and Sammy Sosa at bat on Friday night before third baseman Mike Lowell ran over to the mound with some advice.
"Mikey was like, 'Trust yourself. They're not going to hit your fastball,"' Delcarmen said after helping the Boston Red Sox protect their 2-1 victory over the Texas Rangers.
Delcarmen worked the count full after falling behind 2-0, then fanned Sosa on a 96 mph fastball to end the seventh inning and preserve a one-run lead. After Hideki Okajima pitched a perfect eighth, Jonathan Papelbon earned his 19th save by striking out Michael Young in another tense showdown.
"It was a good show for our bullpen," said Papelbon, who nearly lost his cool when a close play at first base didn't go his way. "I'm not thinking. I've got nothing but 100 percent adrenaline there. That's the reason why I came back in the (closer's) role."
Tim Wakefield (8-8) gave up one run and seven hits, striking out four and walking four to help the Red Sox snap a three-game losing streak and improve to .500 for June, their worst month this season. Delcarmen relieved him with two on and two out in the seventh, then walked the bases full before striking out Sosa to end the threat.
Papelbon got the first two batters in the ninth before things got interesting.
Kenny Lofton hit a slow bouncer to the right side that went between Papelbon and first baseman Kevin Youkilis. The pitcher took a short diversion before heading for first, and by the time he caught the throw and got his toe on the bag, Lofton was safe with his fourth hit of the game.
Papelbon was furious at the call -- replays showed that he might have been right -- and he had to be pushed away from first-base umpire Mike Reilly by second baseman Dustin Pedroia.
"We don't need something crazy to happen and go to the bullpen again," manager Terry Francona said. "He's got a ton of emotion. The guy that closes games for you, more often than not, is going to have some fire."
With Papelbon ignoring him, the 40-year-old Lofton then stole second -- his fourth steal of the game. Jerry Hairston Jr. was hit by a pitch before Papelbon got Young on a strikeout.
"With a guy like Papelbon, when you do get a ball in the middle of the plate, you have to find a way to put it in play," Young said. "I would have liked to have done that earlier in the at-bat. He made a great pitch."
Lofton has stolen four or more bases in a game four times in his career. He has 619 stolen bases, passing George Davis for 16th on the career list.
Jamey Wright (1-2) left with no outs in the sixth. He allowed two runs and six hits with three walks, three strikeouts and a hit batter. He also had some bad luck on Boston's go-ahead run.
After walking two and then moving the runners up with a wild pitch, Wright got Manny Ramirez to hit a hard chopper back to the mound. The ball bounced off Wright's right foot -- right to third baseman Ramon Vazquez; all he had to do was wait for David Ortiz to lumber down the line to tag him for the third out.
But Youkilis was hustling home, crossing the plate before the tag. Umpire Andy Fletcher pointed to the plate to signal that the run counted, giving Boston a 2-1 lead.
"You start by trying to get the ball," Vazquez said. "I knew (Ortiz) was in front of me. I just didn't know if (Youkilis) was close to scoring or if Manny was hustling down the line."
Sosa struck out three times and left four men on base.
Ramirez singled in the second to snap an 0-for-10 slide.