ANAHEIM, Calif. (AP) — Boston’s inability to drive in its runners nearly became comical until Adrian Gonzalez put a seriously strong finish on another win for the revived Red Sox.
Gonzalez hit a tiebreaking RBI double in the 11th inning, and the last-place Red Sox finally broke through late for their fifth victory in six games, 4-2 over the Los Angeles Angels on Thursday night.
Josh Beckett gave up three hits over eight innings and Jacoby Ellsbury had an early two-run single for the Red Sox, who won their second straight road game after a franchise-worst 0-7 start away from Fenway Park.
They didn’t do it easily, stranding 13 runners in the first nine innings and 15 overall, before Gonzalez came through for his new team. Boston went 2 for 18 with runners in scoring position.
“That’s the situation you want to be in, especially in extra innings,” said Gonzalez, who went 2 for 5 with a walk. “You know if you come through, you’ve got your closer coming in. I’ll take 15 runners stranded with a W. Doesn’t matter.”
After J.D. Drew and Dustin Pedroia led off the 11th with singles off Rich Thompson (0-1), Gonzalez’s drive into right field improved the slow start to his first season with Boston. Pedroia, who threw out Erick Aybar at third base in a key eighth-inning play, then scored on Jed Lowrie’s sacrifice fly to shallow center.
“I just didn’t make the pitches. That’s basically it,” Thompson said. “I walked the first guy, and that’s always going to put you in a bit of a hole. If I make a better pitch to Pedroia, we would have been sitting a lot prettier than we were.”
Bobby Jenks (1-1) pitched the 10th, and Jonathan Papelbon earned his fourth save.
Boston manager Terry Francona shared his hitters’ frustration with runners in scoring position, noting they wasted numerous chances to break open the game early against rookie Angels starter Tyler Chatwood.
“I do think they even out, and I can’t wait,” Francona said.
Torii Hunter hit a tying two-run homer in the seventh for Los Angeles, which began a seven-game homestand with just its third loss in 12 games.
Beckett retired his first nine batters and opened with five hitless innings against the Angels, who have lost 10 of 11 to the Red Sox since knocking Boston out in the 2009 AL division series.
Beckett threw 125 pitches — one shy of his career high — in his third straight outstanding start for the Red Sox, holding the Angels without a hit until Aybar hit a high-bouncing infield single leading off the sixth, giving Beckett no chance to throw him out.
The former World Series MVP still thoroughly dominated Los Angeles until Hunter broke out of a 3-for-38 slump in dramatic fashion, pounding his fourth homer of the season into the grove of ficus trees in deepest center field.
“It’s nice to have confidence in your pitches, and I have that right now,” Beckett said. “I felt like I made pitches when I needed to, except for one. That pitch to Torii wasn’t even the worst pitch I threw that inning.”
Boston cleanup hitter Kevin Youkilis left after fouling a ball off his left shin in the first inning. The Red Sox didn’t immediately update the condition of Youkilis, who was coming off just his second multihit game of the season.
Chatwood allowed six hits and five walks over six innings in his third major league start for the Angels, but left trailing 2-0 after Ellsbury broke through with a single to right in the sixth.
Boston reached base in each of the first five innings against Chatwood, but failed to score each time, stranding seven runners.
After Hunter’s tying shot, the Red Sox loaded the bases in the eighth on two walks and a hit batter by erratic Angels reliever Fernando Rodney, who settled down and got Pedroia on an inning-ending popup. Aybar then put a drive down the right-field line to lead off the Angels’ eighth, but was thrown out trying to stretch it to a triple.
“Erick is going to play aggressively,” Angels manager Mike Scioscia said. “I’m good with his effort on going to third base.
But rounding second, it looked like he hesitated a little bit and looked back to see the ball, and that ended up being the difference and was what cost him. That’s what was unfortunate, but the play was as close as you could get.”
NOTES: Beckett has pitched at least six innings in each of his five career starts at Angel Stadium. … Longtime Angels closer Troy Percival threw out the first pitch. … Francona supports the much-discussed addition of a second wild-card team to the postseason — or maybe more. “I wish we were hockey,” he said. “The more teams, the better. I can’t see how it wouldn’t be fair.” … Francona is cautiously optimistic top prospect Ryan Kalish wasn’t seriously hurt after being taken to a hospital Thursday after making a diving catch for Triple-A Pawtucket. Kalish hit .252 during two months with the Red Sox last season.
(Copyright 2011 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)