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Shields leads bullpen effort

October 06, 2008|Mike DiGiovanna | Times Staff Writer

BOSTON -- Scot Shields may have slain his Fenway Park demons Sunday night, throwing 2 1/3 hitless innings with three strikeouts to highlight a strong performance by the team's short relievers in a 5-4 victory over the Boston Red Sox in Game 3 of the American League division series.

Shields, who began the playoffs with an 0-3 record and 13.85 earned-run average in 13 career innings in Fenway Park, replaced Darren Oliver with a runner on in the seventh inning and struck out Kevin Youkilis to end the inning.

The right-hander then retired six batters in a row in the eighth and ninth innings to send the game into extra innings.

Rookie Jose Arredondo replaced starter Joe Saunders with two on and two out in the fifth inning and struck out Mike Lowell looking at a full-count pitch to end the inning. The right-hander then retired the side in order in the sixth.

The Red Sox threatened in the 10th inning when David Ortiz walked with one out against closer Francisco Rodriguez and Youkilis singled.

Rodriguez struck out Jason Bay for the second out but walked Lowell on a borderline pitch to load the bases. Rodriguez fell behind Jed Lowrie, 2 and 0, but came back with a strike and then got Lowrie to fly to right field, ending the inning.

Jered Weaver, making the first relief appearance of his career, pitched two scoreless innings, striking out three, to earn the win.

Coming up short

Until Erick Aybar's game-winning hit in the 12th inning, it was another night of missed opportunities for the Angels, which has been the theme of a division series for a team that has gone seven for 35 with runners in scoring position and stranded 36 base-runners.

The Angels left the bases loaded in the first and fourth innings and two on in the second, seventh and 11th innings, failing to knock out starter Josh Beckett, who gave up only one run in the first inning despite throwing 30 pitches and walking two.

The Angels scored on Juan Rivera's bases-loaded walk in the first inning, but Mike Napoli, who went on to hit two home runs, grounded into an inning-ending fielder's choice. With two out and two on in the second, Mark Teixeira grounded out to third.

With the bases loaded after singles by Chone Figgins and Teixeira and a four-pitch walk to Vladimir Guerrero in the fourth inning, Torii Hunter grounded out to second base.

With two on and two out in the seventh, Aybar grounded out to third. The Angels threatened against closer Jonathan Papelbon in the 11th, putting two on with one out, but Hunter flied to right and Gary Matthews Jr. struck out on a 96-mph fastball.

Missing piece

The Angels began the division series in good shape, especially compared with last year's injury-ravaged playoff team, but there is one missing shortstop who could make a difference.

Maicer Izturis, who hit .269 with three home runs, 37 runs batted in and 26 walks in 78 games, is sitting out the series because of a season-ending thumb injury suffered in early August.

Aybar, the Angels' shortstop, was 0 for 13 before his 12th-inning run-scoring single. Had Izturis been sound, Scioscia could have inserted him into the second spot and dropped Garret Anderson to sixth.

"He's a guy you could put into situations to give you a different look," Scioscia said, "especially in a short series when things aren't going the way you want them to."



Angels vs. Boston

Boston leads best-of-five series, 2-1;

all times Pacific; all games on TBS

Game 1: Boston 4, at Angels 1

Game 2: Boston 7, at Angels 5

Game 3: Angels 5, at Boston 4 (12 innings)

Game 4: Today, 5:30 p.m.

Angels (John Lackey, 12-5, 3.75)

at Boston (Jon Lester, 16-6, 3.21)

Game 5: Wednesday, 6:30 p.m.

Boston (Daisuke Matsuzaka, 18-3, 2.90)

at Angels (Ervin Santana, 16-7, 3.49)*

*If necessary



On the air -- TBS. Radio -- 710, 830.

Update: Lackey made only one mistake in Game 1, a sixth-inning fastball he got up and over the plate to Jason Bay, who crushed it for a two-run home run that gave Boston a 2-1 lead in a game the Red Sox eventually won, 4-1. Lester was outstanding in Game 1, his fastball hitting 95 mph, his cutter breaking sharply in on the hands of right-handed batters and his curve keeping them off-balance.

-- Mike DiGiovanna

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