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Angels arrive early, split

Times Staff Writer

BOSTON -- The clubhouse was devoid of euphoria, strangely so.

The Angels had staged a dramatic comeback, the kind usually followed by shouting, loud music and the almost inevitable use of the words “pivotal” and “character.”

None of that. The Angels were a tired bunch, some of them downright grumpy. After Scot Shields and Francisco Rodriguez blew a three-run lead in the eighth inning, the Angels pounded Eric Gagne for three runs in the ninth, rescuing one victory from the jaws of a doubleheader sweep.

The Angels trickled into Fenway Park on Friday morning and stumbled out some 13 hours later, losing the first game of a day-night doubleheader to the Boston Red Sox, 8-4, and winning the nightcap, 7-5. The Angels flew here in the wee hours from Toronto, got a few hours’ sleep and came three outs away from enduring 18 innings with nothing to show for it.

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“It’s a relief for me,” center fielder Gary Matthews Jr. said. “Now I don’t have to think about it the rest of the night.”

Orlando Cabrera singled home the tying run and Vladimir Guerrero doubled home the winning runs off Gagne, for Guerrero the capper to a doubleheader in which he singled twice, doubled twice and tripled. For the second time in 47 tries this season, the Angels won a game in which they trailed after eight innings.

Yet the most stunning performance was delivered by Ervin Santana, so stunning he won back his spot in the starting rotation. The Angels demoted Santana to triple A after he had gone six weeks without a victory and his earned-run average had soared to 6.22 overall, 8.79 on the road.

They brought him back Friday only out of doubleheader necessity. He did not resemble his former self.

He had a perfect game through 4 1/3 innings. He threw his 95-mph fastball with precision, worked quickly and did not walk anyone on a Boston club that leads the majors in walks. He pitched 6 1/3 innings, giving up one run and four hits.

“That’s probably the biggest statement tonight,” Angels Manager Mike Scioscia said.

The Angels were expected to return Santana to triple-A Salt Lake after his start and recall second baseman Howie Kendrick. However, after the game, Scioscia said Santana would start again Wednesday or Thursday. Dustin Moseley, who has yet to complete six innings in four starts since replacing the injured Bartolo Colon, will start Monday and then likely move to the bullpen.

Santana, who conducted interviews in English before his demotion, refused to speak with reporters until coach Alfredo Griffin agreed to translate from Spanish, alleging they had twisted his words. He did say his biggest improvement in the minors had been mental.

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“Relax, forget about happened in the past and focus on a new start,” he said.

Shields and Rodriguez ought to do the same too. Scioscia tried to get a five-out save from Rodriguez, which would have been his first in two years, but the closer gave up back-to-back doubles to David Ortiz and Manny Ramirez. Shields, who preceded Rodriguez and retired one of four batters, interrupted an interview with Rodriguez to say, “It’s my fault.”

When the Angels rallied against Gagne, Rodriguez got the victory.

“I don’t get paid for the win,” he said. “I’m way too good to be making mistakes like this.”

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bill.shaikin@latimes.com


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