Hit Redeems Anderson
The one time the Angels would have preferred Garret Anderson lay up in left field, the 12-year veteran, criticized harshly at times for what some perceive as lackadaisical defensive play, morphs into Darin Erstad, his awkward sliding catch attempt allowing Boston to score the tying run in the seventh inning Tuesday night.
That made redemption all the more sweet for Anderson, who atoned for his rare mistake of aggression by driving in the winning run with a two-out single in the bottom of the inning to lift the Angels to a 4-3 victory over the beleaguered Red Sox in Angel Stadium.
Closer Francisco Rodriguez, who has given up one run in his last 28 innings, survived a scary ninth, retiring pinch-hitter Manny Ramirez on a fly to the wall in center field to open the inning and Kevin Youkilis on a fly to the wall in right-center field with two on to end the game for his 35th save.
The Angels won their fifth game in a row and moved to within four games of Oakland in the American League West, while the Red Sox, coming off a five-game sweep at the hands of the New York Yankees, dropped their sixth in a row.
“We cracked the door open a little bit on the defensive side, but we need that aggressiveness out there,” Manager Mike Scioscia said of Anderson, who has driven in 16 runs in his last 16 games. “Garret’s been swinging the bat well the last 75 at-bats or so, he’s been on an RBI tear.”
The Angels were leading, 3-2, with two outs and the bases empty in the seventh inning when Scioscia pulled Brendan Donnelly in favor of Scot Shields to face David Ortiz, the major league’s home run (44) and RBI (117) leader.
Ortiz had three hits in 10 career at-bats against Shields, but two were home runs, one a prodigious walk-off blast to right field in Fenway Park on Sept. 5 that landed somewhere near the Prudential Building.
Shields, mindful of that shot, concerned by Ortiz’s mighty swing and miss at his first pitch Tuesday and knowing usual cleanup batter Ramirez was out of the lineup, threw four consecutive balls to walk Ortiz.
Youkilis followed with a medium fly down the left-field line, but Anderson, playing deep so as not to allow anything over his head, came up short on his slide and the ball bounced by him, enabling Ortiz to score from first base for a 3-3 tie.
Had Anderson pulled up and played it safe, Ortiz would have stopped at third base and would have been stranded when Wily Mo Pena struck out to end the inning.
“That’s always a tough play, because either way you go you’re going to get second-guessed,” said Anderson, who was booed by the crowd. “They’re going to boo you if you make the smart play, stop, and let it bounce.”
Vladimir Guerrero sparked the winning rally in the seventh with a two-out double to left-center field, and Anderson, a .227 hitter against left-handers this season, lined a single to center field against left-hander Kason Gabbard to drive in Guerrero with the go-ahead run.
“I was fortunate to get a good pitch to hit and do something productive with it,” Anderson said. “You try to take advantage of opportunities when you can.”
Anderson did just that in the third inning, grounding to second with a runner on third and one out to tie the score, 2-2.
Juan Rivera’s home run in the second, his 21st of the season, had given the Angels a 1-0 lead, and Angels shortstop Orlando Cabrera bailed out starter Joe Saunders from a bases-loaded, one-out jam in the second when he made a leaping catch of Dustin Pedroia’s liner to start a double play.
It appeared Chone Figgins would snuff out another rally in the third inning when, with two on and two out, the Angels’ center fielder raced far into the gap in left-center field to catch up with Pena’s deep fly. But the ball bounced off the heel of Figgins’ glove for a two-base error, allowing both runners to score for a 2-1 Boston lead.
After Anderson’s run-scoring groundout in the third, the Angels took a 3-2 lead in the fourth when Robb Quinlan singled, stole second and scored on Figgins’ two-out single to right field.