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Boston Gets the Sweep It Needed

Baseball: A 7-4 victory over the Angels ends a three-game series and keeps the Red Sox in the hunt for a playoff berth.

August 29, 1996|MIKE DiGIOVANNA | TIMES STAFF WRITER

ANAHEIM — Shawn Boskie has added a slow curve this season, and he has been able to freeze left-handed batters with a snappy inside fastball. But the biggest difference in the Angel right-hander, according to interim Manager Joe Maddon, has been his mental changeup.

"Sometimes when you haven't had success in the past, you're almost waiting for something bad to happen," Maddon said. "But Shawn feels he can do this now. He's not waiting for something to go wrong."

Boskie didn't have to wait for something to go wrong Wednesday night--things went sour almost immediately, as the Boston Red Sox scored four runs in the second inning en route to a 7-4 victory in front of 20,894 in Anaheim Stadium.

The victory completed a three-game sweep of the Angels for Boston, which has won 22 of its last 28 games to move as close as two games of the Baltimore Orioles in the American League wild-card race and six of the first-place New York Yankees in the East.

Red Sox right-hander Tom Gordon (10-6) went the distance on a five-hitter, walking four and striking out three for his fourth complete game.

And, as usual, Boston gave him plenty of support with an efficient, nine-hit attack that included Mike Greenwell's home run in the eighth inning but no hits from first baseman Mo Vaughn, who was 0 for 5. The Red Sox have scored 203 runs in Gordon's 28 starts, an average of 7.3 a game.

"Another well-pitched game by the Red Sox," said Maddon, whose team scored a combined six runs off Boston's Tim Wakefield, Roger Clemens and Gordon. "They've pitched like crazy here.

"Gordon was unable to get his fastball over early, but then he went to Plan B, his breaking ball. He has a nasty hook and was able to get that over."

Boskie (12-7) was coming off one of his best starts of the season, Friday's 6 1/3-inning, four-hit shutout of the Baltimore Orioles in Camden Yards, and he retired the side in order in the first inning Wednesday night.

But Boston bunched five singles in the second--by Reggie Jefferson, Mike Stanley, Troy O'Leary, John Valentin and Mike Greenwell--for three runs, and a fourth scored when Tony Rodriguez bounced into a double play.

"Three or four of those hits were ground balls, and if they go a couple of feet either way maybe they're double plays and we get out with a run or two," Boskie said. "It wasn't like they were raking the ball over the yard, but they're a hot team, and those things can happen when you're going good."

Boskie did not allow a hit in the next three innings, and the Angels scored twice in the third on Randy Velarde's walk, Jim Edmonds' double, Gordon's passed ball and Tim Salmon's RBI single to make it 4-2.

But when O'Leary, a former Cypress High standout who is batting .327 with seven homers and a team-high 26 RBIs in August, and Valentin opened the sixth with doubles, Maddon determined that 108 pitches and a three-run deficit would be enough for Boskie.

His decision to pull Boskie touched off some hi-jinks in the left-field corner, but it had nothing to do with the five burly guys dressed in pink tutus in the box seats down there.

Pitching coach Joe Coleman, who made the visit to the mound, signaled to the bullpen, and left-hander Chuck McElroy, who was just activated off the disabled list Wednesday, jogged through the bullpen gate and into left field.

But halfway to the infield, Coleman ordered McElroy back to the bullpen. It was Jason Grimsley he wanted, and out came the struggling right-hander, who retired Greenwell on a grounder to second but threw a wild pitch that allowed Valentin score for a 6-2 lead.

McElroy, recovered from an inflamed left thumb, eventually came on to pitch a scoreless seventh, giving up no hits, striking out two and walking one.

"I've never experienced that before--it was funny," McElroy said of his U-turn. "Maybe I'll make the Espy Awards."

The Angels trimmed the deficit to three runs in the seventh when Rex Hudler reached on an error, Gary DiSarcina singled and Jorge Fabregas hit a sacrifice fly, but Greenwell's homer off reliever Greg Gohr in the eighth pushed the lead to 7-3.

J.T. Snow homered with one out in the ninth, but Gordon retired Hudler and DiSarcina on ground balls to end the game.

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