Frustrating night turns fruitful

Red Sox nip Angels in 10

ANAHEIM -- The Red Sox had stranded piles of baserunners -- 14 to be exact -- by the time Manny Ramirez strode to the plate in the top of the 10th inning with the bases loaded and the game tied on Friday night.

Ramirez has made his reputation on his epic ability to drive in runs, so it was only fitting he was the one who changed the tone of the night for the Red Sox.

Though it was one of the least spectacular RBIs of Ramirez's career, it got the job done. Ramirez's slow roller to third drove home Gabe Kapler and served as the winning run as the Red Sox edged out the Angels in a tense, 4-3 victory.

Curt Schilling (two scoreless innings, four strikeouts) stifled the Angels in the bottom of the 10th, picking up the win.

While the Red Sox stranded a season-high 16 runners and squandered a 3-0 lead, none of that mattered by the time the long night was over. With the win, the 70-50 Sox maintained their four-game lead over the Yankees in the American League East.

"We knew what happened in the Yankee game," said Red Sox center fielder Johnny Damon, who had a four-hit game. "We knew we had to win. We battled."

The winning rally started with Kapler and Damon stinging singles just out of the reach of Angels first baseman Darin Erstad.

In actuality, the key at-bat of the night was turned in by Roberto Petagine, not Ramirez. Petagine was in the game only because David Ortiz had been tossed out of the game in the top of the eighth for arguing a called third strike of home-plate umpire Bill Welke.

Petagine worked a 10-pitch walk off nasty Angels reliever Scot Shields, loading the bases with just one out for Ramirez.

"It was a great at-bat," said Red Sox manager Terry Francona. "The more pitches he saw, you could see him getting closer and closer and he was aggressive. Any time you have a good hitter, if he's aggressive and staying in the zone, you have a chance for something good to happen. That was a big at-bat in the game, obviously."

Nobody enjoyed the view more than Ortiz, who had his temper get the best of him for the second year in a row at Angel Stadium. Of course, his anger this time did not reach the level of July 17, 2004, when Ortiz threw two bats from the dugout in the direction of the umpiring crew, ultimately landing him a five-game suspension.

This time around, Francona knew he was not the man to hold Ortiz back.

"I handed him off" to third-base coach Dale Sveum, said Francona. "The first thing Dale said when he came in was, 'God, is he strong.' I can't stop him. I just wanted to get him out of there. He got thrown out, but he didn't hit anyone with a bat, so we're ahead of the game."

Ortiz, who leads the American League in walks, takes pride in his knowledge of the strike zone. He became aggravated by a series of calls he felt had gone against him on the night.

"It's not like I was going crazy out there," said Ortiz. "Seriously, I'm leading the league in walks for a reason. I think I know what I'm doing out there. You never see me complain about a pitch that is a strike. I guess that follows me when I'm playing here.

"Dude, seriously, I've been getting bad calls all year long. But it's OK. You can get a bad call in one at-bat, maybe two at-bats. But in five at-bats? Get a bad call in all of them. I ain't taking that, bro. This is not a game you play just for fun. All I do is go to the plate and hit. I'm not out there playing defense. And I know the strike zone very well."

So, too, it turns out, does Petagine.

"Yeah, I was pushing for him to do something there," Ortiz said. "Oh yeah, it feels good that we won the game."

Sox starter Matt Clement was in position to get the win, turning in his best performance of the second half. Clement baffled the Angels over his seven innings of work, allowing one run and striking out five.

"It was nice to have good results and keep the team in the game. If you keep our team in the game, we're going to win a lot of games," said Clement. "Against an offense like that, you have to be aggressive. I was able to be aggressive."

Mike Timlin came on in the eighth, and the Angels rallied.

Orlando Cabrera got things started innocently enough with a one-out single to left. Cabrera then stole second, prompting Francona to issue an intentional walk to Vladimir Guerrero.

Cabrera and Guerrero then combined on what wound up being a pivotal double steal, allowing them both to score when Bengie Molina hammered a single into the corner in left field to tie the game.

"We have to make a decision there. That's part of their game," said Francona. "Obviously it hurts when they advance. But we decided we're not going to hold them there. If we hold them, and we give them a hole. ... That's just our decision. It's a great and very daring play on their part. You have to live with it. It hurt us, but that's our decision. Any time they run, it does not surprise us."

It was the fourth time this season the Red Sox had blown a win for Clement. But the Red Sox have won all four of those games.

Instead, it was Schilling in the winner's circle as he improved to 5-5 on the season and erased the sour taste of Monday's blown save against the Tigers.

Schilling sent down all six men he faced, capped by Erstad's pop to short, ending the 3-hour, 44-minute marathon at 1:51 a.m. for the diehards still awake back in New England.

"He was sharp, he looked confident," Francona said of Schilling. "The ball looked like it had some finish to it."

Enough to finish the Angels, who didn't have a second comeback in them.

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