Sox Sweep Angels
[photogallerylink id=36376 align=right]Marco Scutaro hit a tiebreaking grand slam in the eighth inning, and the Boston Red Sox wrapped up a 10-game West Coast road trip with a 7-3 victory over the slumping Los Angeles Angels on Wednesday, sweeping the three-game series.
Kevin Youkilis tied it with a seventh-inning homer, while Adrian Beltre and Bill Hall hit early inning solo shots as the Red Sox improved to 7-0 this season against the club that sent them home from last season’s playoffs.
Josh Beckett (2-1) yielded five hits over seven innings in his first victory since April 10 for Boston.
Angels starter Joel Pineiro strained a muscle in his left side moments before the first pitch, sidelining him with an injury that will keep him out for six to eight weeks.
The Angels were swept at home for the first time in 80 series, ending the majors’ longest streak since Atlanta went 84 home series without being swept from 2003-06. Los Angeles hadn’t been swept in Angel Stadium since June 2007 against Kansas City.
With their seventh loss in eight games, the Angels are plummeting out of the race for their sixth AL West title in seven seasons – and Pineiro’s long-term absence won’t help.
Pineiro strained an oblique muscle while warming up in the bullpen, and immediately had an MRI exam that indicated he’ll be out for well over a month. The right-hander has been a dependable starter in his first season with Los Angeles, going 10-7 with a 4.18 ERA.
With a day off Thursday, Los Angeles used five relievers in Pineiro’s place, with Scot Shields making his first start in nearly seven years.
The strategy worked until Fernando Rodney (4-1) struggled in the eighth, and the Red Sox made another late rally. Boston scored 13 of its 17 runs in the series after the sixth inning, including all four in Tuesday’s 4-2 victory.
Scutaro had three hits and drew two walks against the Angels’ pen, capping his day with his second career grand slam off Rodney. The hard-throwing setup man gave up two walks and a bunt single before Scutaro’s drive into the left-field corner.
Beckett was the latest Boston player to look good after getting healthy. He yielded three runs and struck out five in his second start back from a two-month stint on the disabled list with a back injury.
Fellow returnee Clay Buchholz pitched well in the series opener two days ago, and catcher Victor Martinez played in all three games after getting off the DL on Monday.
Shields made his first start since Sept. 28, 2003, in Pineiro’s place, but the longtime middle reliever wasn’t sharp, giving up two homers and throwing two wild pitches before leaving the second inning with the bases loaded.
Francisco Rodriguez escaped the jam and pitched 2 1-3 scoreless innings. Rich Thompson then had five strikeouts in three strong innings, but yielded Youkilis’ tying homer.
Los Angeles got back-to-back RBI singles from light-hitting Bobby Wilson and Reggie Willits in the second and took the lead in the fifth on Maicer Izturis’ sacrifice fly after Willits got a leadoff double when Hall lost his popup in the sun.
NOTES: Shields, who barely played last year before season-ending surgery on his left kneecap, made just his sixth appearance in the Angels’ last 21 games. … Angels CF Torii Hunter didn’t play while mired in a 4-for-23 slump. … A swarm of bees emerged from a hive under the upper deck at Angel Stadium in the seventh inning, but disappeared a few minutes later.