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Edmonds' Absence Is Noticed : Angels: Red Sox win in ninth, 4-3, after starting center fielder leaves with injured back.


Lose the American League's runs batted in leader, third-leading home-run hitter and one of its top defensive outfielders and you expect some kind of drop-off in production and performance.

But this quickly? Only moments after Angel center fielder Jim Edmonds left Thursday night's game against the Boston Red Sox because of a back injury, his replacement failed to make a catch on a ball that Edmonds has become known for catching this season.

Dave Gallagher, acquired in a trade with the Philadelphia Phillies last week, turned the wrong way when Lee Tinsley's liner to deep center left the bat in the top of the ninth. The ball one-hopped the wall for an RBI double that gave Boston a 4-3 victory before a paid crowd of 25,435 in Anaheim Stadium.

Gallagher, playing shallow against Boston's lead-off hitter, scrambled to recover and was near the warning track when the ball hit the ground, allowing Luis Alicea to score the winning run from first and giving the Red Sox their 14th victory in their last 15 games.

Could Gallagher have made the catch if he broke correctly on the ball?

"I don't think so, not from where I was playing," said Gallagher, who was making only his second appearance in the Angel outfield.

"The ball had a lot of backspin and was carrying pretty well. Maybe if it was hit a little higher, I could have had it. If I would have come close to catching it I'd be sitting here asking myself a lot of questions, but I didn't come close."

Ironically, Edmonds was hurt making a catch on a ball that was hit in almost exactly the same spot. Edmonds, who has bounced off more walls than a NASCAR driver this season, crashed into the center-field fence after fielding Mike Greenwell's drive in the top of the fifth.

He suffered a sprained left lower back but was still able to hit a two-run homer off Boston starter Roger Clemens in the bottom of the fifth. But Edmonds said he had to "limp around the bases--I felt like if I took one wrong step something was going to pull."

Edmonds, who has 28 home runs and 92 RBIs, left the game in the top of the eighth and will be available on a day-to-day basis. But had he been available in the ninth Thursday night, Manager Marcel Lachemann isn't so sure he could have made the play on Tinsley's hit.

"That was a line drive that was smoked pretty good," Lachemann said. "Gallagher's a good outfielder. I don't think he would have caught it even if he had turned the right way."

The Angels' second consecutive loss, combined with a Texas victory, reduced their lead in the AL West to 9 1/2 games, the first time since July 28 their cushion has dipped under 10 games.

It also was a tough start to an important 11-game home stand against AL East teams Boston, New York and Baltimore, which continues tonight and Saturday against the Yankees and pitchers Jack McDowell and David Cone.

"They're throwing Clemens, McDowell and Cone . . ." Angel third baseman Tony Phillips said. "We'll see where we stand in a hurry."

Clemens, who began the game with a career 21-7 record and 2.45 earned-run average against the Angels, pitched seven strong innings Thursday, giving up three runs on seven hits and striking out seven before giving way to a trio of relievers that included Stan Belinda, who threw a scoreless ninth for his ninth save.

Neither Edmonds nor Snow had ever gotten a hit off Clemens, but both ended long droughts against the Red Sox right-hander--Edmonds 0 for 8 and Snow 0 for 18--to help stake the Angels to a 3-2 lead after five innings.

Edmonds erased a 2-1 deficit in the fifth with his two-run home run, golfing a low Clemens fastball that towered toward left-center field and barely cleared the fence.

But the Angel lead evaporated in the top of the sixth when Tim Naehring lined a Mike Harkey pitch into the left-field seats for a bases-empty home run and a 3-3 tie.

Boston took a 2-0 lead with single runs in the third and fourth, Vaughn doubling and scoring on Greenwell's single to center in the third and Alicea homering to right in the fourth.

But Chili Davis opened the fourth with a bloop single to left, and Snow slapped a double into the left-field corner to put runners on second and third. Garret Anderson struck out, but Davis scored on Damion Easley's groundout to make it 2-1.

Harkey gave up nine hits in six innings but somehow managed to escape with a no-decision. The reason? Seven of the hits came when two were out.

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