Red Sox beat Yankees, 9-6, for first win of 2011

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Red Sox beat Yankees, 9-6, for first win of 2011

By Art Martone
CSNNE.com

BOSTON -- For six games, they were they gang that couldn't shoot straight. On the rare occasions when they hit, they couldn't pitch. When they pitched, they couldn't hit. Bad defense? Boneheaded plays? Check, and check.

Then they came home. And everything changed.

Oh, they still had some pitching problems -- John Lackey's six-runs-allowed-in-five-innings performance was a blast from the (recent) past -- but the Red Sox had little else to complain about in Friday's 9-6 victory over the Yankees in the Fenway Park opener.

They got four shutout relief innings from Alfredo Aceves, Bobby Jenks, Daniel Bard and Jonathan Papelbon. After going 1-for-14 with runners in scoring position on Wednesday and Thursday in Cleveland, they went 6-for-9 on Friday . . . and most of the damage came with two outs. Dustin Pedroia led the 12-hit attach with a home run and two singles, and Adrian Gonzalez, David Ortiz, J.D. Drew and Jarrod Saltalamacchia also had multihit games.

And when it was over, they were off the schneid. The Sox beat out the Rays in the race to avoid being baseball's last winless team.

The Sox' fortunes turned in the bottom of the second inning. The Yankees were holding a 3-2 lead when Pedroia came to bat with one run in, runners at second and third, and two out. It's the sort of situation the Sox had been squandering through the first six games, but Pedroia ripped a single to center, driving in Jacoby Ellsbury and Marco Scutaro and giving Boston a 4-3 lead.

It didn't stop there. They added two tack-on runs on RBI singles from Gonzalez and Ortiz, making it 6-3.

Lackey gave the lead back one run at a time, with the Yankees finally tying it on a home run by Alex Rodriguez in the fifth inning. But a two-out, RBI double in the bottom of the inning by Jarrod Saltalamacchia put the Sox ahead to stay, and Drew's two-run single in the eighth gave them breathing room.

Aceves, Jenks, Bard and Papelbon combined for four innings of one-hit, scoreless relief, with two walks and five strikeouts.

Art Martone can be reached at amartone@comcastsportsnet.com.

MLB ump saves woman attempting to jump from Pittsburgh bridge

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MLB ump saves woman attempting to jump from Pittsburgh bridge

PITTSBURGH -- John Tumpane can't explain why he approached the woman as she hopped over the railing of the Roberto Clemente Bridge on Wednesday afternoon.

The woman told Tumpane she just wanted to get a better view of the Allegheny River below. The look on her face and the tone of her voice suggested otherwise to Tumpane, a major league baseball umpire in town to work the series between the Pittsburgh Pirates and the Tampa Bay Rays.

So the 34-year-old Tumpane reached for the woman even as she urged him to let her go.

"It was just pure instinct," Tumpane said . "You hear kind of stories of this all the time, different scenarios, people aiding and situation where I was lucky enough to be there to help and try to think of everything I could do, hanging on to her. At times she wanted to go the other way. I was like, 'not on my watch, please.' We were just hanging on."

And saving a life.

Tumpane secured one of her arms. A bystander walked up and grabbed the other while another -- Mike Weinman, an employee for the Rays -- clutched her legs and pinned them to the railing while Tumpane mouthed to someone in the crowd to call 911.

What followed were chaotic moments of panic, fear and ultimately, grace.

"I couldn't tell you how long we were waiting for everyone else to get in place," Tumpane said. 'Obviously another power comes into be when you're hanging on and you know what the alternative is of you letting go and not having other people to help you."

Tumpane, Weinman and the third volunteer clung to the unidentified woman until emergency responders arrived. A police boat raced up the river to the iconic yellow bridge named for the Pirates Hall of Famer who died on Dec. 31, 1972, when a plane making humanitarian deliveries to earthquake victims in Nicaragua crashed. Now, 45 years later a crowd thrust together by fate brought a complete stranger back from the brink. Together.

"Once they were able to secure her, we were able to talk her back to help us out and we got her back on this side," Tumpane said. "After that I went up to her, she said, 'You'll just forget me after this' and I said, 'No, I'll never forget you.' This was an unbelievable day and I'm glad to say she can have another day with us and I'm glad I was in the right place at the right time."

Tumpane, who grew up in the Chicago suburbs, got into umpiring as a teenager, made his major-league debut in 2012 and received his full-time MLB commission in 2016, stressed he's no hero.

"I just happened to be there," he said. "I think I've been a caring person in my life. I saw somebody in need, and it looked like a situation to obviously insert myself and help out."

The aftermath was a bit surreal. After the woman was taken away, Tumpane called his wife, his arms still shaking.

"Not too many times you call your wife and say you helped save somebody's life," he said. "A really special moment."

One that stayed with him even as he prepared to call balls and strikes behind home plate Wednesday night. During breaks in the action his eyes would drift to the bridge just a few hundred feet behind the center field wall at PNC Park.

"It's also hard when you stand back behind home plate and look and you see the bridge in the distance, In between innings and whatnot, just thinking of how things could have maybe been," he said. "Glad it was this way."

Tumpane has no experience in crisis management or suicide prevention. He's spent 16 years living the nomadic life of an umpire. Asked what was going through his head while he tried to coax the woman back to safety, Tumpane just shrugged his shoulders. How do you explain the unexplainable?

"I happened to be in the right spot at the right time," he said. "Tried to be as comforting as I could and talk her through it. Thankfully that was the outcome."