Varitek double in ninth drives Sox' rally past Angels
ANAHEIM, Calif. - The news came minutes before game time. Kevin Youkilis not only would not be in the Red Sox' lineup (left oblique injury), he was going on the 15-day disabled list. Dustin Pedroia (groin) also would be out of this one, leaving the Boston batting order weakened, despite the season-long heroics of the fill-in cleanup hitter, Jason Bay.
But that lineup got the job done in a 4-3 comeback win against the Angels, and the winning run in the ninth inning wasn't produced by the most likely suspect. J.D. Drew began the ninth with a single to left field off Scot Shields, and one out later catcher Jason Varitek, now hitting .239, blasted a gap double to right-center. Drew scored from first base, third base coach DeMarlo Hale windmilling him in.
So the night that began with bad news ended well when Jonathan Papelbon converted his ninth straight save this season in front of 33,493 at Angel Stadium.
"Tek had a real good at-bat, got a breaking ball up, and fortunately for us it got to the wall," manager Terry Francona said. "This is a tough place, and we've been in a lot of close games here. You start seeing that [rally] monkey jumping around, not too many times good things happen. We had the lead when we needed it at the end."
"He's getting some balls, he's driving some balls, he's hit some balls to left field," Francona said of Varitek, who had squared to bunt before doubling. "I don't think his batting average is the end-all, be-all for what he's doing here. Sometimes it's when you get a hit. None were bigger than that base hit tonight."
The Sox had rallied to tie it at 3-3 with two runs in the eighth, against Jose Arredondo. One out into the inning, Boston had loaded the bases (single, single, walk), and Arredondo was walking back to the dugout, replaced by Darren Oliver. On a 1-2 pitch, Oliver hit David Ortiz on the heel of his right hand, forcing home a run to make it 3-2.
Then Bay tied the game with a grounder to first base. Mike Lowell also grounded out, though, stranding two runners.
Though Josh Beckett was sitting on the bench, not scheduled to pitch in Anaheim, there was a bit of drama with his name on it during the early going.
Sox starter Justin Masterson already had hit Maicer Izturis in the leg in the second inning, and his first pitch to Torii Hunter in his third-inning at-bat was inside. The second pitch was behind Hunter.
That led plate umpire Jim Joyce to warn both benches, even though Masterson already had demonstrated a lack of control in the game. He had walked three batters, one of which loaded the bases in the first, and hit Izturis.
But the last time these teams faced each other, April 12 at Angel Stadium, Beckett had incited a near-brawl by throwing a pitch inches from Bobby Abreu's face when the plate umpire had called a late time out. That episode obviously had an impact here.
With Daisuke Matsuzaka still on the disabled list, Masterson was doing his best impression of the injured starter. He loaded the bases in each of the first two innings, surrendering just one run, though, on a first-inning sacrifice fly by Kendry Morales.
With one out, Izturis singled in front of Sox left fielder Bay. Masterson then walked Abreu and Hunter. Morales got the run home on his sac fly to left, but Masterson got out of the inning on a fielder's choice.
In the second, he walked Howie Kendrick and gave up a single to Jeff Mathis. He got a fly out from Chone Figgins but hit Izturis with that pitch.
It was bases loaded, again, but his 12th batter of the first two innings, Abreu, ended the frame with a fly ball to left.
"Obviously, early on, he was really struggling to find it," Francona said of Masterson. "He was scattering balls. I know the ball to Hunter looked probably awful. He was not trying to do anything. I thought the last couple innings he kind of settled in a little bit."
"I couldn't throw a strike," said Masterson, who ended up going six innings and allowed just two earned runs. "The looks of it were not that good, but there was no intention whatsoever on that pitch behind [Hunter]."
Drew homered to center off Jered Weaver in the second inning to tie the score, but the Angels broke the tie in the fourth when another Masterson walk, to Kendrick, started the inning. Mathis singled, Figgins executed a sacrifice bunt, and Kendrick scored on a sac fly by Izturis.
Weaver had surrendered just two hits and one walk by the end of the fifth.
After Drew's blast, and a single by Varitek in the second, Weaver got the next 10 batters, until Jacoby Ellsbury's bunt single to open the sixth.
Ellsbury promptly stole second, moved to third on a fly out by Julio Lugo, then positioned himself to come home on a fly out by Ortiz.
But it seems the designated hitter can't catch many breaks these days. Juan Rivera caught his fly ball to left and unleashed a terrific throw to the plate. Mathis picked it and was ready for the sliding Ellsbury, who was called out with the run that would have tied the score at 2-2.
That left Weaver pumping his fist, revved up by the play that kept his lead intact.
The lead grew in the seventh. With Manny Delcarmen on for the Sox, Hunter lined a single to left, which drove in Figgins. The run was unearned, a result of Lowell's fifth error of the season, which had put Figgins on.