Angels' bullpen breaks down in eighth inning of 7-3 loss to Red Sox
The Angels patched together a pretty good bullpen-by-committee effort for seven innings Wednesday, with Scot Shields, Francisco Rodriguez and Rich Thompson combining to give up only three runs against the Boston Red Sox in place of scheduled starter Joel Pineiro, who was scratched because of a left oblique strain suffered in warmups and will be sidelined for six to eight weeks.
But it all fell apart in the eighth, when Angels setup man Fernando Rodney walked two batters, gave up a bunt single to Eric Patterson and a grand slam to Marco Scutaro. The Boston shortstop's shot to left field snapped a 3-3 tie and lifted the Red Sox to a 7-3 victory and a sweep of a three-game series in Angel Stadium.
The Angels, who fell to 0-7 against Boston this season and have lost seven of eight games, had not been swept at home in 79 series dating back to a June 25-27, 2007 sweep at the hands of the Kansas City Royals. It was the longest active home stretch since the 2003-2006 Atlanta Braves went 84 series without being swept.
Josh Beckett gave up three runs and five hits in seven innings, striking out five and walking one, to gain the victory in his second start since missing more than two months because of a lower-back strain.
The Angels, who fell nine games behind Texas in the American League West, threatened in the bottom of the eighth when Alberto Callaspo hit a two-out double and Bobby Abreu walked against reliever Manny Delcarmen. But second baseman Bill Hall made a leaping, over-the-shoulder catch of Juan Rivera's soft liner to shallow center to end the inning.
Hall (11th of season) and Adrian Beltre (17th) each hit solo home runs off Shields, who made his first start since 2003, in the second inning. The Angels countered with two runs in the bottom of the second, when Hideki Matsui walked, Howie Kendrick singled and Bobby Wilson and Reggie Willits hit two-out, run-scoring singles.
The Angels took a 3-2 lead in the fifth with a rally that started when Hall lost Willits' popup in the sun, the ball dropping in shallow right field for a double. Willits took third on Erick Aybar's sacrifice bunt and scored on Maicer Izturis' sacrifice fly to center.
Rodriguez, who got Kevin Youkilis to fly to left with the bases loaded to end the second inning, threw a scoreless third and fourth for the Angels, and Thompson added a scoreless fifth and sixth. But Youkilis led off the seventh with a homer to left off Thompson, his 19th of the season, to tie the score, 3-3.
Photo: Boston's Kevin Youkilis is congratulated by third-base coach Tim Bogar after his home run in the seventh inning. Credit: Gary A. Vasquez, U.S. Presswire.