It wouldn't compensate for all of their transgressions this season, but the Angels vowed to one another Tuesday night that this was a game they had to win.
It wasn't so much for them as for teammate Chuck Finley.
The Angels then defeated the Boston Red Sox, 3-2, giving Finley his 10th victory of the season against six losses.
Gary DiSarcina's two-out single in the ninth inning scored Damion Easley from second base for the victory. Finley gave up six hits for his sixth complete game of the season, becoming the fifth pitcher in the American League to win his 10th game and strengthen his candidacy for an All-Star berth.
Finley, who twice has been selected to the All-Star team, says he already has made plans to spend the All-Star break in Las Vegas, and has plane and hotel reservations to leave Sunday with his family.
"I can find a lot more interesting things to do in Vegas," Finley said, laughing. "Actually, if there's a choice, I think Mark (Langston, 9-2) deserves to go. He's been so good all year, and could have a lot more victories.
"I know I wouldn't want to be the one to choose, but I don't know how you could overlook him."
Finley made only one mistake all night. He hung a breaking ball over the the plate in the first inning, and Mike Greenwell hit a two-run homer. It was the first homer that Finley has yielded to a left-handed hitter since Baltimore's Brady Anderson on May 24, 1992, spanning 67 at-bats.
This was the eighth consecutive game in which an Angel starter has yielded a home run, the longest streak since June 2-June 10, 1987.
"I told myself after that," Finley said, " 'If I get beat, it's going to be 2-0 or 2-1. I'm not giving up any more runs.' "
True to his word, Finley did not even allow a runner to second after the third inning.
He even reminded Greenwell when he came to the plate in the third inning that the plate belonged to him, hitting him with a pitch in the right shoulder.
The only fear for Finley the rest of the game was whether his teammates would score against Red Sox starter Danny Darwin. Darwin, who has yielded two or fewer runs in 10 of his last 13 starts, stymied the Angels nearly the the entire night.
The only mistake he made was surrendering a solo homer to Chili Davis in the fourth inning. It was Davis' 12th homer of the season, but his first with the bases empty.
The one mistake Darwin couldn't control came in the eighth inning when Red Sox shortstop John Valentin bobbled Tim Salmon's two-out grounder, allowing Luis Polonia to score the tying run.
Red Sox reliever Joe Hesketh opened the ninth, and promptly walked pinch-hitter Damion Easley. J.T. Snow sacrificed Easley to second, where he stood when Rene Gonzales struck out.
DiSarcina, now facing hard-throwing right-hander Ken Ryan, swung at the first pitch he saw. It shot into right field, and Carlos Quintana didn't even bother making a throw.
"He's been getting the big hits for us all year," Angel Manager Buck Rodgers said of DiSarcina, who has 37 RBIs, fourth on the club. "He's playing the modest guy, but he's been doing it all for us."
"Even though it's a messed up division," DiSarcina said, " a lot of people have forgotten it's a rebuilding year. A lot of people got caught up with the win-win-win idea, and lost sight of what we're trying to do.
"This team will be competitive two, three years down the line, but it's pretty tough for people to think we can contend the way we stand now."