Anaheim, CA (Sports Network) – Jered Weaver was dominant through 7 1/3 innings, and the Angels scored three two-out runs in the seventh inning to break a tie, as Los Angeles grabbed a commanding AL Division Series lead over the Red Sox with a 4-1 victory at Angel Stadium.
The Angels, who have lost in the ALDS to the Red Sox in 2004, 2007 and 2008, now lead the best-of-five series, 2-0, and will go for a sweep at Fenway Park on Sunday at 12:07 p.m. (et).
Weaver (1-0) allowed just one run on two hits and two walks while fanning seven for the Angels, who have won the first two games of a postseason series for only the second time in franchise history. The last time was in 1982 against the Brewers in a five-game ALCS, when Milwaukee responded from its deficit to win three straight games and the league pennant.
“We certainly are aware of the challenge ahead of us, even after tonight’s ball game,” Angels manager Mike Scioscia said. “There’s one thing that gives you command of the series, and that’s when you win the third game in a five- game series, and that’s what we’re going to focus on trying to get done on Sunday.”
It was the third career playoff appearance for Weaver — all against Boston — and he earned his first win as a starter, having been 1-1 with one start in 2007 and one relief appearance in 2008. It was the second consecutive pitching gem for LA, after John Lackey pitched 7 1/3 shutout innings in a 5-0 win on Thursday.
Erick Aybar capped the two-out, three-run rally in the seventh with a two-run triple, and Maicer Izturis put Los Angeles ahead for good with an RBI single, adding a run scored. Brian Fuentes earned his first career postseason save.
Josh Beckett (0-1), who has been a playoff hero for both Boston and Florida, allowed four runs on five hits and a walk in 6 2/3 innings to take the loss for the Red Sox, who will send Clay Buchholz to the mound in Game 3 to make his first postseason start with an opportunity to extend Boston’s season.
Beckett, the 2003 World Series MVP with the Marlins and 2007 ALCS MVP with Boston, suffered his first loss in the playoffs since joining the Red Sox, having been 5-0 in seven starts coming into the game. Boston, which has scored just one run in the two games combined, got an RBI single from Victor Martinez to account for the offense.
The last nine times the Red Sox have lost Game 1 of a postseason series, they have also lost Game 2. Despite the setbacks, they have won two of the last three series in which they trailed, 0-2. Out of the four times a team has recovered from an 0-2 hole in the LDS to advance, Boston has recorded two of those comebacks (1999 vs. Cleveland, 2003 vs. Oakland).
“I’d rather not be down, 0-2, because the team we’re playing is really good,” said Red Sox manager Terry Francona. “You put yourself in a position where if you make a mistake, it’s going to cost you. But until they tell us to go home, we’ll take our team and keep going. That’s how we always feel.”
After both teams scored a run in the fourth, Weaver and Beckett began pitching effectively again like they had early in the game, matching zeroes on the scoreboard.
Weaver allowed just two walks in three scoreless innings from the fifth through the seventh, and Beckett retired eight batters in a row heading into the bottom of the seventh before the Angels exploded for three runs, all with two outs.
“Anytime you can keep (Boston) off the bases and score some runs against Beckett, your team is doing a good job,” Weaver said. “I was very locked into Lackey last night and used some of the things I learned tonight. For the most part, everything I threw was working.”
Vladimir Guerrero led off the frame with a walk, and pinch-runner Howie Kendrick stole second with one out. Juan Rivera grounded out sharply to third, but Izturis followed with a hard grounder that barely made it past the outstretched glove of second baseman Dustin Pedroia and into center field, scoring Kendrick easily for a 2-1 lead.
Izturis quickly stole second, and Mike Napoli was hit by a pitch to lead to Aybar’s fly ball over Jacoby Ellsbury’s head in center for a two-run, two-out triple that gave the Angels a three-run cushion.
Weaver was lifted after recording the first out of the eighth, and Darren Oliver pitched around a two-out infield single to bridge the gap to Kevin Jepsen, who allowed a one-out double to Kevin Youkilis. Fuentes then came in and walked Jason Bay with two outs but got Mike Lowell to fly out weakly to end the game.
The game had all the makings of a pitchers’ duel early, as Weaver and Beckett went out-for-out in the first three frames. Through the third, both teams combined for one baserunner and no runs.
Boston, though, broke the scoreless tie with a run in the fourth. Ellsbury struck Weaver’s first pitch to deep center, and the ball one-hopped the wall for a leadoff triple. Two batters later, Martinez laced an RBI single to center to give the visitors their first run of the series.
The Angels were able to even the game in the home half. Bobby Abreu took a Beckett pitch the other way for a single through the infield’s left side, and Guerrero executed a perfect one-out hit-and-run play, singling through where the second baseman would have been to put runners on the corners.
Kendry Morales followed with a sacrifice fly to right for a 1-1 game.
Dating back to the regular season, Beckett has allowed three or more runs in eight of 10 starts…Beckett also made a start in last year’s LDS against the Angels, allowing four runs in five innings for a no-decision…Scott Kazmir is the probable starter for LA on Sunday…Boston’s Jonathan Papelbon pitched one scoreless inning, extending his postseason streak to 26 shutout frames, the most career postseason innings in major league history without allowing a run.
- Via Sports Network