Scutaro's slam keys Boston's sweep

Scutaro's slam keys Boston's sweep

ANAHEIM -- Marco Scutaro had already been on base four times when he stepped to the plate in the top of the eighth inning on Wednesday afternoon, the finale of a lengthy road trip still hanging the balance.

As much as the Red Sox value Scutaro's table-setting ability, they didn't mind seeing him go well out of his element on this one occasion. After falling behind in the count 0-2 to Fernando Rodney, Scutaro worked his way back in and belted the sixth pitch of the at-bat -- a 1-2 changeup -- to deep left. It curled around the foul pole for a game-breaking grand slam, the second of Scutaro's career.

The blast gave the Red Sox some nice homeward momentum, snapping a tie in dramatic fashion and paving the way for a 7-3 victory over the Angels.

After losing two out of three in Oakland and splitting four in Seattle, the Red Sox came to Anaheim and pulled out a three-game sweep, capping a 6-4 road trip that suddenly went into the category of satisfying.

"I think every win from now is going to be a big one," Scutaro said. "We're getting some guys back, and hopefully [over] the next couple of months, everybody stays healthy. And we have a long way to go. We just have to keep going."

Clutch hits like the one Scutaro delivered will go a long way toward keeping them going. Through the first seven innings, the Sox had stranded nine runners. This, even on a day when the Angels had to scratch starter Joel Pineiro just minutes before game-time with a left oblique injury.

"Rodney has real good pitches," said Scutaro, who was 3-for-4 with two walks. "His fastball is just moving. His two-seamer is pretty hard, kind of heavy, and the changeup is pretty good, too. I guess I got lucky this time."

Nobody enjoyed Scutaro's big blast more than Josh Beckett, who found himself in the win column for the first time since April 10 and just the second time this season. In his second start back from the disabled list, Beckett turned in a strong performance, giving up five hits and three runs over seven innings, walking one and striking out five. The righty threw 112 pitches, 69 for strikes.

"Like I said, the most important thing is for the team to win right now," said Beckett. "When I look back at my season, there's not going to be enough wins to really worry about it."

Still, there's no disputing that Beckett's presence could be huge down the stretch.

"I actually thought he was better than his line indicated, and his line was pretty good," said manager Terry Francona. "The ball to left field, [Jeremy Hermida] didn't [catch it] -- it's a tough play, but it didn't get made. Then we get the basehit up the middle and we lost the ball in the sun."

Rodney helped gift wrap Boston's rally in the eighth, walking Hermida and Bill Hall, the first two batters of the inning. Eric Patterson, looking for a sacrifice bunt, put his offering in just the right spot and wound up with a single that loaded them up with nobody out.

"Really, for me, it was just about getting it down," said Patterson. "Obviously I came in the other day and didn't get one down and was really disappointed in that. For me, it was just get it down first, move the runners over and I'm always hustling out of the box. So you never know what's going to happen, and luckily I beat it out."

Though the Sox had a comfortable lead at 7-3, they were without their two top relievers, Daniel Bard and Jonathan Papelbon, who were rested due to recent usage.

The Angels threatened against Manny Delcarmen in the bottom of the eighth, putting runners at first and second with two outs. Juan Rivera hit a little bloop and Hall made a tremendous lunging grab.

"Manny had gotten in a little trouble there, made a good 3-2 pitch, got the guy to hit a soft liner," said Hall. "I was in position to make a good play on it. It got us out of the inning and we got the win."

Ramon Ramirez finished it out with a dominant ninth.

In addition to Scutaro and Kevin Youkilis, Adrian Beltre and Hall also went deep -- both of those solo shots in the second against last-minute starter Scot Shields. Hall's was particularly impressive, considering he broke his bat.

"A few different pieces," said Hall. "The ball got in on me real hard. I'm strong enough, I guess -- just strong enough. I thought it was going to go more foul. I didn't know it had broken that much until I got back to home plate. I knew I didn't hit it great. I was just hoping it would stay fair."

But the Angels came right back in their half of the second. With two on and two outs, Bobby Wilson hit a line-drive RBI single to left that fell just inches from Hermida, who opted to catch it on a hop. Reggie Willits followed with an RBI single up the middle to tie it up.

Despite some good chances for the Red Sox, it stayed that way until the bottom of the fifth. Again, Beckett had some misfortune that was not his own doing.

Willits led off with a routine popup that turned into a double when Hall lost it in a tough sun. The Angels then executed, moving Willits to third on a bunt and home on a sacrifice fly to center by Maicer Izturis.

But Youkilis gave the Red Sox put the momentum back on Boston's side, pummeling a game-tying homer to lead off the seventh.

"Every series, every game is going to be important," said Scutaro. "There's a long way to go, and we just have to keep winning games."

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