Sox's bats awaken a little late

Sox's rally falls short in Anaheim

ANAHEIM -- Given David Ortiz's propensity for driving a stake in the heart of the opposing pitcher, you can imagine the pit in Angels manager Mike Scioscia's stomach when the big designated hitter came to the plate in the top of the eighth inning with the game on the line on Saturday afternoon.

The Red Sox were down by a pair, and had runners at first and second with two outs. How many times has Ortiz come through in similar situations since joining the Red Sox in 2003? Too many times to count.

This time, Ortiz didn't come through, as Scot Shields struck him out on a 2-2 breaking ball, ending Boston's best threat of the day in a 4-2 loss to the Angels.

After being ejected in the eighth inning of Friday night's game, Ortiz surveyed the clubhouse television as Shields threw a series of nonstop heaters against the Red Sox in the 10th inning.

So he dialed up his bat on Saturday, waiting to get those game-tying runs in, someway, somehow.

"Of course," said Ortiz. "The guy threw the other night at 94 [mph] with late movement. You've got to pick early what you want to do. I saw him pitching last night. He didn't throw a breaking ball at all. But I know he's got a good breaking ball. He kind of used it at the right time, I guess."

That was the biggest out the Angels got.

"Ortiz and Manny [Ramirez] are two of the best RBI guys in the history of baseball, so I was glad to get out of it," said Shields.

Angels closer Francisco Rodriguez erased the other half of Boston's slugging tandem to lead off the ninth, getting Ramirez on a grounder to short. Jason Varitek gave the Sox brief hope, lining a single to right. But K-Rod got John Olerud and Bill Mueller to end the game.

Boston needs a win on Sunday to salvage a split of this four-game series. The Red Sox were done in by a solid pitching performance from Angels rookie Ervin Santana, who allowed five hits and two runs over 7 2/3 innings.

"He was tough," said Red Sox right fielder Gabe Kapler. "He came out aggressive and had some nice success the first time through the lineup, and it set the tone."

Bronson Arroyo turned in a quality outing for Boston, limiting the Angels to two runs -- one earned -- over six innings.

The one point of trouble came in the bottom of the third. The rally started when Arroyo hit Adam Kennedy. With two outs, Orlando Cabrera drew a walk. Then Darin Erstad lined an RBI single that skipped by the normally surehanded Johnny Damon in center field. The error allowed another run to score, and Erstad took second.

"It was just a swipe," said Damon. "When the ball was hit to me, I was waiting for it to have a second bounce. I knew Cabrera was going to third, [so] I thought I would just try to get it before it bounced a second time. I thought it was going to bounce twice, [but] it didn't, and then I tried to get it. That's why it got behind me. In a close game like it was, you just wish that kind of stuff did not happen."

Particularly with the type of day Santana was having, and with the relievers Scioscia had at his disposal for the late innings, things weren't looking good for Boston.

Santana set the tone right out of the gate, striking out Damon, Edgar Renteria and Ortiz (all swinging) to open the game. The Red Sox came up with just one hit -- an Ortiz double -- over the first six innings.

The Angels tacked on a couple of insurance runs in the seventh against the Boston bullpen. Kennedy greeted Saturday callup Lenny DiNardo with a single up the middle and stole second. Chone Figgins got Kennedy to third with a single to left. And Cabrera's sacrifice fly to center made it 3-0. Chad Bradford uncorked a wild pitch, pushing the deficit to four runs.

Damon prevented things from being a lot worse, making a tremendous catch against the wall on a drive by Maicer Izturis to end the inning. If the ball had fallen, it easily would have been a two-run double. Instead, the Sox still had hope.

"We always feel like that," Red Sox manager Terry Francona said. "That was a huge play. I think we always feel like that. Just try to get a crack in the door and work ourselves in. They have a good bullpen, but we always feel like we have a chance."

That feeling was substantiated as the Red Sox got their bats in gear in the top of the eighth. Kevin Millar and Mueller started it with singles up the middle. With two outs, Damon looped a single to left to load them up.

That was all for Santana, as Scioscia went to Shields. Renteria delivered a clutch, two-run single to center, cutting the Angels' lead in half. But Shields came up with that huge strikeout against Ortiz, who is just 1-for-12 in the series.

Still, he was the man everyone wanted at the plate in that situation.

"Any time we have the game on the line, we want Manny or Ortiz at the plate," said Arroyo. "They've carried the load for the last two years. They had a good reliever coming out of the 'pen to face Ortiz, and every now and again you're going to get him out."

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