Red Sox stumble against Angels

Red Sox stumble against Angels

ANAHEIM -- The lengthiest road trip of the season for the Red Sox, a 10-game, three-city excursion, has already had its share of pratfalls, many of which came on Thursday night in a forgettable 13-4 loss to the Angels.

This defeat, the third the Sox have suffered in the first four games of the trip, was painful in more ways than one. Veteran knuckleballer Tim Wakefield, the staff leader in wins, had to leave the game in the fifth inning after being stung off the right shin by a Casey Kotchman line drive.

Red Sox trainer Jim Rowe walked through the clubhouse with an MRI in his hands just minutes after the game, and the news was better than anything that happened on the field.

"He was taken for X-rays. They were negative," said Red Sox manager Terry Francona. "He has a deep contusion on his lower shin area. There's no break or anything. Just a deep contusion. He got hit pretty hard."

The same could be said for the Boston pitchers that followed after Wakefield. Mike Myers was tagged for a three-run homer just moments after being thrust into emergency duty, and fellow lefty Mike Remlinger was walloped to the tune of six hits and five runs over two innings.

Thanks to Wakefield's injury and Jeremi Gonzalez being unavailable for much more than emergency duty, Francona was forced to utilize relievers in unfamiliar roles.

The result was predictable.

"Sometimes you have to just take a pounding," Francona said. "It's not fun, but you have to take it."

And there was Bartolo Colon, pounding the strike zone and making the Red Sox look fairly helpless for most of the night. The big right-hander went seven innings and surrendered three runs, all in his final inning of work. He ran his record to 16-6.

If there was one glimmer of hope for the Sox on the night, it came in that seventh with two on and two outs for Johnny Damon. The center fielder has produced his share of clutch hits this season, but this time all he could muster was a shallow flyout to left. Damon is 3-for-17 on the trip.

"We didn't hit like we wanted to. It starts with me. I need to find a way to get hot," said Damon. "I know this offense goes kind of when I go. I'm disappointed with how I'm doing. I got a great pitch to hit when it was 8-3. When I'm going good, I don't miss."

The Angels didn't miss much of anything, as they were squaring balls up.

Kotchman had hurt Wakefield in a different sort of way earlier in the game, as he belted a homer to left to lead off the bottom of the second. That broke a scoreless tie, giving the Angels the lead they would never relinquish.

Everything fell apart in the bottom of the fifth, with the Angels erupting for six runs. The first major glitch came when Darin Erstad hit an RBI single to left that instantly became worse. The line drive took one hop and scooted past Manny Ramirez, who has made four errors in left field in his last five games.

"He got in no man's land on the sinking liner," Francona said. "I think he thought he had a chance to get it. He got in between. It skips by him. He just couldn't quite get there."

Thanks to the error, Erstad hauled all the way to third. Bengie Molina immediately got Erstad home with an RBI single to right.

Up stepped Kotchman, who drilled that liner off of Wakefield's shin for an RBI, infield single. The pitcher was able to get up and walk off the field under his own power, but had to leave the game nonetheless. It was the second year in a row an injury forced Wakefield off the Angel Stadium mound. On July 18, 2004, Wakefield took a Jose Molina liner off of his right shoulder blade.

In that instance, Wakefield did not miss a start. It could be the same story this time around for the resilient Wakefield.

"I don't expect this to bother him," said Red Sox catcher Doug Mirabelli. "It's on the meat of his leg. It's a little painful right now, but I wouldn't expect it to bother him throwing-wise."

Things did not improve upon Wakefield's exit. Myers surrendered a three-run homer to Juan Rivera, the first batter he faced. Suddenly, the Sox were in a 7-0 hole, the last situation they wanted with Colon on the mound.

The deficit swelled to 8-0 before the Boston bats finally found their rhythm against Colon with a rally in the seventh. Kevin Millar snapped Colon's shutout bid with a two-out, RBI single up the middle, scoring Ramirez. Bill Mueller and Mirabelli kept things going with singles, and then Gabe Kapler blasted a two-run single up the middle to make it 8-3.

"We know they're a good team," said Damon. "We know this is only one game."

Albeit one the Red Sox can't wait to forget.

Ian Browne is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.