BOSTON — After stumbling through a 10-16 June, the Boston Red Sox started July by dodging a major bullet on Friday night.
Actually, two of them.READ MORE: Celtics Shake Off Rough Start, Beat Pelicans 104-92 On Strong Games From Tatum And Brown
An inning after Koji Uehara’s glove-shovel to the plate on a safety squeeze kept the tying run from scoring, a call involving a fan in the right field stands may well have been incorrect, yet it allowed the Red Sox to escape with a 5-4 victory over the last-place Los Angeles Angels.
“We caught a break,” Red Sox manager John Farrell said after Daniel Nava’s two-out shot down the right field line bounced off the top of the wall and was caught by a young fan — on what may well have been fan interference.
Right fielder Mookie Betts, who was chasing the ball, agreed, saying, “I think that ball was going to come back in play and obviously (Mike) Trout is probably going to score on that ball. Fortunately, (the kid) has pretty good hand-eye coordination.
“I think Trout is probably going to score on that ball.”
Added Boston designated hitter David Ortiz, who earlier hit his 522nd home run and also had two singles: “That was huge. We played with 26 players tonight.”
Angels manager Mike Scioscia came out and asked the umpire to take a look. They did and the call “stood,” meaning the replays were inconclusive.
Scioscia said the ruling was “a brutal call” and “absolutely wrong.”
Had the ruling been changed, the umpires likely would have allowed Trout to score from first, which he would have done easily on the hit by Nava, a former Red Sox outfielder. Craig Kimbrel then retired C.J. Cron on a groundout to end it for his 17th save.
“On the replays we all looked at, it looked like it was still in play,” said Trout, who continued his hot streak with two hits, a walk and a stolen base but failed to advance on a ninth-inning pitch in the dirt that rolled up the first base line. “It’s a tough one.”
The Red Sox, getting three consecutive hits apiece from both Ortiz and Mookie Betts, led 5-0 through five inning. Boston built its early lead against starter Jhoulys Chacin, who beat them as a member of the Atlanta Braves in April. Chacin (2-5) gave up five runs on 12 hits in 4 2/3 innings.READ MORE: Patriots Scouting Consultant Eliot Wolf To Interview For Bears, Vikings GM Openings
Steven Wright (9-5) shut the Angels out on six hits through five.
In the sixth, a double, a hit batter and a walk loaded the bases, and with the rain falling, Wright went away from his tough-to-grip knuckler and threw a 3-2 fastball to Cron — who ripped a grand slam.
There was a 95-minute rain delay in the bottom of the sixth, and the Angels then almost tied it in the eighth, when Uehara charged the squeeze bunt by Carlos Perez and shoveled the ball home to Christian Vazquez for the out.
“That takes you back to spring training,” Farrell said of Uehara’s play. “That’s something you do repetitively for 45-plus days, and it showed up to be a pivotal play.”
The Red Sox, coming off a 2-4 road trip, opened a nine-game pre-All-Star break homestand and also began a stretch of 18 of their next 21 at home.
Boston reliever Matt Barnes got the three outs in the sixth after the grand slam, and Junichi Tazawa, Uehara and Kimbrel worked an inning apiece in the first meeting of the year between the teams.
Ortiz’s homer broke a tie with Ted Williams, Frank Thomas and Willie McCovey and moved him into 19th place on the all-time home run list. It was also his 2,000th hit in a Red Sox uniform.
“I don’t even look at (my stats). I play blind,” Ortiz said. “One day I will, but right now I don’t have time.”
Talking about Williams, Ortiz said, “The man did it all.”
Trout’s 2-for-4 made him 23-for-52 (.442) with 10 extra-base hits over his past 13 games. Nava’s hit was his second of the game, and he also drew a walk. However, he also struck out with two outs and two on against Tazawa in the seventh inning.MORE NEWS: Brad Marchand Named NHL's First Star Of The Week
NOTES: Red Sox manager John Farrell, asked about club president Dave Dombrowski’s lack of any kind of vote of confidence this week, said, “I can understand the question, the potential speculation that’s out there but our expectation is to win.” … Angels 3B Yunel Escobar (knee) missed his seventh straight game but remains active and might play this weekend. … LF Brock Holt (concussion) returned for the Red Sox and had two doubles, an RBI and two runs scored, but 1B Hanley Ramirez (right side pull) was out and is day-to-day. … The Angels activated RHP Joe Smith from the disabled list, and he worked a scoreless inning in relief. RHP Mike Morin was optioned to Triple-A Salt Lake. … The Red Sox will summon RHP Sean O’Sullivan from Triple-A Pawtucket to start Sunday’s series finale. … Angels LHP Hector Santiago faces RHP Clay Buchholz on Saturday night. … The Red Sox staged surprise on-field family reunions for two military families before the game.