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Angels Fall to Red Sox Once Again : Baseball: After sweeping California last weekend, Boston scores four runs in the first inning to win, 6-4. Leftwich loses his fourth game of the season.

TIMES STAFF WRITER

Phil Leftwich wasn’t around to see the finish Friday mainly because his start was so awful.

Buck Rodgers simply got fed up, spoke his mind and got the rest of the night off.

And so it went for the Angels, who lost to the Boston Red Sox, 6-4, in front of 30,178 at Anaheim Stadium.

So what else is new?

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The Angels, swept in three forgettable games at Fenway Park last weekend, couldn’t handle Boston again, losing their fourth consecutive game to the Red Sox and their third straight on this homestand.

Leftwich, the Angel starter, couldn’t overcome a horrible start, losing his fourth game this season.

When it was over, the Angels held a brief team meeting. But Rodgers, ejected by plate umpire John Hirschbeck for arguing a called third-strike call on Chad Curtis in the fifth inning, revealed nothing.

Of his ejection, Rodgers said: “I’m not against a ‘strike’ umpire, but here’s a guy (Hirschbeck) who’s calling them wide, giving six inches on each side of the plate. Don’t get me wrong, I like a strike umpire, but that was ridiculous.”

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He would recover to pitch 7 2/3 solid innings, but Leftwich looked as if he wouldn’t survive the first. Four batters into the game and the Red Sox had a 4-0 lead.

After a leadoff walk to Otis Nixon, Leftwich gave up singles to Mike Greenwell and Tim Naehring. Naehring’s hard-hit single to left-center scored Nixon for the game’s first run.

Mo Vaughn then slammed a 1-and-2 pitch 10 rows deep into the right-field stands for a three-run homer and a 4-0 Boston lead before Leftwich recorded an out.

Rodgers wouldn’t say Leftwich’s future with the Angels rested with this start. But a 4-0 deficit after four batters clearly wasn’t what he had in mind, either.

“It’s important for him,” Rodgers said. “It’s important for us. It’s not a make-or-break start. We’re not going to ship him to Siberia. It’s important in the grand scheme of things.”

With injured starters Joe Magrane and Mark Langston due back next month and rookie Brian Anderson, 3-0 and starting Sunday, pitching so well, Leftwich needed to impress Friday in order to stay in the majors.

It wasn’t a bad outing, but even if he had overwhelmed Boston it might not have been enough to keep him from being sent to triple-A Vancouver when Magrane and Langston are sound again.

“After the second, he pitched super,” Rodgers said of Leftwich, who gave up eight hits and five runs with four strikeouts and two walks.

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“We were just in such a hole we couldn’t make it back. I think obviously after the first it was a plus.

“If it serves as a kick in the butt for him, it’s a good performance. If it just means he can pitch better when he’s down, 4-0, it’s not.”

Boston starter Aaron Sele (3-0) held the Angels to a single by rookie catcher Jorge Fabregas in the first four innings. He kept the Angels scoreless until the seventh, when Chili Davis ruined his shutout bid with a leadoff homer over the 386-foot sign on the right-center field fence.

Sele didn’t make it out of the inning, giving way to reliever Scott Bankhead after walking the next batter, Eduardo Perez.

“He had a good fastball for five innings,” Boston Manager Butch Hobson said. “Then he hung a fastball to Chili and he lost it for a minute.”

Down, 6-1, entering the bottom of the eighth, the Angels rallied. Boston third baseman Scott Cooper, hitting .436 in the 11 games before Friday, had hit the first pitch from reliever Bob Patterson for a two-run homer to right field in the top half of the inning.

But Damion Easley followed with a two-run homer off Bankhead and Dwight Smith later scored when Perez grounded into a double play with the bases loaded.

In the ninth, Hobson went with Ken Ryan rather than standout closer Jeff Russell, who saved victories against Oakland Wednesday and Thursday.

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Ryan, who picked up his first save, was in immediate trouble through no fault of his own. Fabregas reached base on an infield single. Harold Reynolds grounded into what should have been a double play, but Cooper threw the ball into right field.

Gary DiSarcina sacrificed Fabregas to third and Reynolds to second. But Ryan struck out Easley and got Smith to ground out to end the game.


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