Angels 4 Red Sox 1
ANAHEIM, Calif. — With Jered Weaver picking up right where John Lackey left off for the Los Angeles Angels, not even Josh Beckett could keep the Boston Red Sox from the brink of playoff elimination.
Weaver yielded two hits while dominating Boston into the eighth inning, and Maicer Izturis drove home the tiebreaking run in Los Angeles’ 4-1 victory over the Red Sox on Friday night, extending the Angels’ first-round lead to 2-0.
Game 3 is early Sunday at Fenway Park, with Boston’s Clay Buchholz facing Angels newcomer Scott Kazmir.
Erick Aybar followed Izturis’ RBI single with a two-run triple during the Angels’ two-out rally in the seventh to break up a stellar pitching duel between Weaver and Beckett, Boston’s ace and most reliable playoff performer.
“These two guys were matching each other pitch for pitch,” Angels manager Mike Scioscia said. “I thought we did a really good job of staying focused, settling down. … The only way we’re going to beat good pitching is to pitch with them, and we were able to do that the first couple of nights.”
Aybar’s hit chased Beckett, who yielded five hits and four runs in 6 2-3 innings during his first playoff loss in a Red Sox uniform. It was his first defeat in nine post-season starts since Game 3 of the 2003 World Series with Florida.
The Red Sox eliminated the Angels in three of the past five post-seasons, but they’ve mustered just one run and eight hits in the series’ first two games.
“We’ve had a tough time these last two games swinging the bat, that’s an understatement,” Boston manager Terry Francona said.
After Lackey and Darren Oliver combined to blank the Red Sox 5-0 in the series opener, Weaver was better than Beckett, the former World Series MVP, in just his second post-season start.
Although the Red Sox scored their only run of the series in the fourth on Victor Martinez’s RBI single, Weaver limited wild-card Boston to just four baserunners before leaving in the eighth with a flourish, raising his cap to the cheering Orange County crowd.
“It’s always nice going up against a lineup like that,” Weaver said. “You know that if you make any mistakes, they’re going to hurt you . . . Hopefully these two (wins) will carry us into Boston with some positive momentum.”
His Los Angeles teammates backed him up at the plate and out of the bullpen — albeit just barely.
Boston got the tying run to the plate in the ninth with Kevin Youkilis doubled off Kevin Jepsen and Jason Bay of Trail, B.C., drew a two-out walk from Brian Fuentes. But Fuentes retired Mike Lowell on a fly to centre for the save.
Both teams combined for just seven baserunners over the first 6 1/2 innings, but free-swinging Vladimir Guerrero drew a walk from Beckett to open the Angels seventh. After pinch-runner Howie Kendrick swiped second — no surprise for one of the majors’ most active teams on the basepaths — Izturis worked the count before driving Beckett’s 94th pitch into centre for the go-ahead run.
After Beckett hit Mike Napoli with a pitch, Aybar rapped a triple to centre, scoring both runners.