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Before the fall, they mustered a last rally

October 07, 2008|Mike DiGiovanna | Times Staff Writer

BOSTON -- Before another crushing playoff defeat at the hands of the Boston Red Sox on Monday night, a 3-2 loss that eliminated the Angels from the American League division series, there was one improbable game-tying rally.

They were down to their final four outs, trailing, 2-0, with two outs in the eighth inning when Red Sox reliever Hideki Okajima walked Mark Teixeira on four pitches.

Boston Manager Terry Francona summoned right-hander Justin Masterson to face Vladimir Guerrero, the slugger who never met a pitch that was too far out of the strike zone to swing at. Guerrero fell behind, 0-and-2, but found the patience to lay off four straight balls, his walk putting two on.

Masterson jumped ahead of Torii Hunter, 0-2, but crossed up catcher Jason Varitek with his next pitch, a fastball that Varitek thought was going to be a slider.

The pitch sailed past Varitek and to the backstop for a passed ball that allowed the runners to advance. The Fenway Park crowd began to taunt Hunter, chanting, "Tor-ii! Tor-ii!"

Hunter took ball two before lining a slider into right field for a single that scored Teixeira and Guerrero for a 2-2 tie, but the Red Sox won it in walk-off fashion in the ninth.

"Thanks for waking up a sleeping dog," Hunter said. "They chanted my name, and I shut them up quick. But I got shut up in the next inning."


When the Angels ponder their division series loss to the Red Sox, two things will stand out: Too much Jon Lester and not enough clutch hitting.

Lester, the Red Sox left-hander, threw seven shutout innings, allowing four hits, Monday night and did not allow an earned run in 14 playoff innings.

The Angels went one for five with runners in scoring position and eight for 46 with runners in scoring position in the series. They left 43 runners on base in the four games.

"We had a good feeling about the way we played all summer and our expectations were high, so naturally, we're disappointed," Manager Mike Scioscia said. "They beat us. They certainly executed when they had to, and at times, we didn't."

Said Teixeira: "There were two really good teams in this series, and we didn't catch many breaks. But we didn't hit well with runners in scoring position, and that's what it came down to."

Two that got away

Angels starter John Lackey, who allowed two runs and seven hits in seven strong innings, escaped a two-on, one-out jam in the fourth when he got J.D. Drew and Jason Bay to fly out.

But the veteran right-hander was unable to escape a fifth-inning jam after Mark Kotsay's single and Varitek's one-out single to right put runners on first and third. Leadoff batter Jacoby Ellsbury followed with a chopper to second baseman Howie Kendrick, who bobbled the ball and had to settle for the out at first. Kotsay scored, and Varitek took second.

Lackey was visibly upset after the play, even though the ball appeared to be hit too slowly to double up the speedy Ellsbury.

Three pitches later, Lackey hung a curve to Dustin Pedroia, who banged it off the left-field wall for an RBI double, snapping his 0-for-15 series slump and giving Boston a 2-0 lead.


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