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Least Shall Be First for Red Sox : Baseball: Macfarlane, Alicea, the bottom of the Boston order, do the most damage in a 6-4 defeat of the Angels.

August 22, 1995|MIKE DiGIOVANNA | TIMES STAFF WRITER

The Boston Red Sox have a potent lineup featuring speed at the top (Willie McGee or Lee Tinsley), a well-rounded shortstop in the second spot (John Valentin), strength in the middle (Mo Vaughn, Jose Canseco) and solid, steady batters in the five and six spots (Tim Naehring, Mike Greenwell).

And down at the bottom of the order the Red Sox have the formidable duo of . . . Mike Macfarlane and Luis Alicea? Maybe not formidable to the rest of the American League, but they were to the Angels on Monday night.

Macfarlane, a .228 hitter, had a triple, double and scored two runs, and Alicea, a .263-hitting second baseman with minimal power, homered and scored both times he walked to lead the Red Sox to a 6-4 victory before a paid 23,943 in Anaheim Stadium.

The loss snapped the Angels' two-game win streak and reduced their lead in the AL West to 8 1/2 games; the Red Sox have now won 17 of their last 19 games to open a 12 1/2-game lead in the AL East.

Angel starter Brian Anderson (6-5) gave up only six hits in 6 1/3 innings, but he made several critical mistakes. The biggest were walking Alicea with a runner on third base and no outs in the third inning and walking Alicea in the seventh with a runner on second and Alicea squaring to bunt.

"Walking the guy in the No. 9 hole twice, that's just plain dumb," said Anderson, who had a five-minute post-game meeting with Manager Marcel Lachemann to discuss his shortcomings. "He's going to give me an out, and I walk him on four or five pitches that weren't even close.

"Those are the little things that determine close ball games, and this was a close game."

Alicea seems to be on a crusade against the Angels. The former St. Louis Cardinal infielder, obtained in a trade last December, is batting .478 (11 for 22) against the Angels and three of his six home runs have come in Anaheim Stadium.

Alicea homered in Boston's 12-1 victory May 27 and again in the Red Sox's 4-3 victory over the Angels last Thursday. His bases-empty homer in the fifth inning Monday night gave Boston a 3-2 lead.

"There's no explanation [for why he's done so well against the Angels], but obviously we haven't made the right pitches at the right time," Lachemann said. "He's a good little player. He's hit three home runs against us and they've all hurt."

The Red Sox snapped a 3-3 tie on Canseco's bases-empty home run off Anderson in the top of the sixth inning and added two more runs in the seventh to take a 6-3 lead.

Macfarlane doubled and Alicea walked to open the inning, and both advanced on McGee's sacrifice bunt. Lachemann summoned right-hander Mike James to face Valentin, but he bounced a grounder up the middle that nicked James' glove on its way to center field, scoring both runners.

The Angels threatened in the seventh inning when Greg Myers doubled and took third base on Rex Hudler's single, but Alicea and the Red Sox--who have the league's worst fielding percentage (.979)--turned Tony Phillips' grounder into a double play.

Myers scored on the play and Dave Gallagher followed with a walk, but reliever Eric Gunderson got Jim Edmonds to line softly to short, ending the inning.

Left fielder Garret Anderson couldn't quite reach two balls that helped stake the Red Sox to a 3-2 lead by the top of the fifth inning.

Macfarlane led off the third with a drive into the left-field corner that Anderson came within a foot or two of catching.

The ball caromed off the wall and behind Anderson, whose momentum took him toward the line, and Macfarlane wound up with a triple.

Alicea walked and McGee sent a ground-rule double into the right-field seats to tie the game, 1-1. Anderson struck out Valentin, but Vaughn grounded to first for a run batted in and a 2-1 lead.

Phillips walked, advanced to second on Gallagher's single and scored on Alicea's throwing error on an attempted double play to pull the Angels to within 2-2 in the bottom of the third, but Alicea homered to left, just above the glove of the leaping Anderson, to make it 3-2 in the top of the fifth.

The Angels came right back in the bottom of the fifth when Phillips homered to left--his 20th of the season, a career high--to make it 3-3.

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