Sox are beaten, bruised
Angels rough up Wakefield in romp
ANAHEIM, Calif. -- For the Red Sox, this has not been the kind of weekend that inspires postcards home from the Left Coast.
When they win, they still lose. When they lose, they hurt.
A night after David Ortiz's double-bat fling from the dugout marred Pedro Martinez's mastery of the Angels and invited a potentially lengthy suspension, Tim Wakefield was tormented by Anaheim. Initially by a first inning of bloops and bleeders, then by a fourth-inning liner by Jose Molina that struck him in the back of the right shoulder with such force it caromed and was caught by shortstop Nomar Garciaparra.
Wakefield went to his knees after absorbing the blow, then responded with his usual stoic grit, waving off manager Terry Francona and trainer Jim Rowe to remain in the game. An admirable gesture, but ultimately an empty one, as Adam Kennedy hit Wakefield's next pitch into the right-field seats, the last indignity Wakefield endured in an 8-3 loss to the Angels before a sellout crowd of 43,746 in Angel Stadium.
"I'm just glad it didn't hit me in the head," said Wakefield, who said he will undergo a CT scan today to make certain his shoulder blade is intact. "It was coming right at my face. I was lucky that I was able to duck out of the way."
Three solo home runs -- two by Johnny Damon, the other by Ortiz -- accounted for the Sox scoring last night as they lost for the ninth time in their last 11 road games. Only Curt Schilling stands in the path of the Angels moving past the Sox in the wild-card race. The Sox again are eight games behind the Yankees in the AL East and tied with Oakland in the wild-card standings after losing for the second time in three games here with Manny Ramirez on the bench with tight hamstrings.
"You said a key word -- Schilling," Francona said. "We win tomorrow, we still have a chance to have a good trip. I still feel like we can have a decent road trip."
Will Ramirez be in the lineup?
"Yes, I certainly hope to have him in there," Francona said. "We'll have to wait and see how he's doing."
A Sox loss and A's win today could put two AL West rivals ahead of the Sox in the wild-card hunt, a race that could become as daunting as the Sox' pursuit of the Yankees if Oakland goes off on one of its usual second-half tears and the Angels suddenly reap the kind of returns they expected from Bartolo Colon last winter when they invested $51 million in him over the next four years.
Colon, who had been a (blimp-sized) shadow of himself for the first three months of the season, his ERA as expanded (6.38) as his belt size coming into the game, won his second straight decision last night, an encouraging development for a team that had counted on him to be its ace. The Sox allowed him to escape early wildness, failing to score even as Colon walked four men in the first two innings. Garciaparra's one-hop bullet to second was converted into an inning-ending double play in the first, and Damon popped to shallow center with the bases loaded in the second.
That was just the start of a frustrating evening for Garciaparra, whose leap was not enough to corral Darin Erstad's two-run, bases-loaded floater in the bottom of the first, and who couldn't close his glove on Tim Salmon's soft liner that knocked in a third Angels run in the inning. Salmon was credited with a hit, but it could just as easily have been scored an error.
Garciaparra, who had ended the first half batting .487 in July (19 for 39), is 1 for 12 playing in his old neighborhood. He was 0 for 3 yesterday despite hitting the ball hard.
The first-inning rally began when David Eckstein beat out an infield hit to third -- Mark Bellhorn unrewarded for a terrific stop -- and Chone Figgins flared a single to center. Wakefield struck out the next two batters, Garret Anderson and Vladimir Guerrero, then walked Jose Guillen on a full count to load the bases. Erstad and Salmon followed with their velvet daggers, and it was 3-0.
It was as if Wakefield was wearing a "Hit Me" sign on his back, and the Angels complied. Guerrero added to his remarkable history against the knuckleballer when he belted a solo home run in the third. In 10 at-bats against Wakefield, Guerrero has four hits -- all home runs. That one made it, 4-0, and Kennedy made it a 5-0 lead with his home run after Molina bounced one off Wakefield's back. Wakefield did not come out for the fifth. He has just one win in his last 10 starts dating to May 23.
Damon, previously 0 for 10 in the series after ending the season's first half with a 16-game hitting streak, answered with a bases-empty home run in the fifth, the league-leading 28th homer allowed by Colon. But Colon was given the rest of the night off after the Angels scored three more runs in the sixth against Joe Nelson and Jimmy Anderson.
That made it 8-1, and yes, Mendoza time, as Ramiro Mendoza, who pitched Thursday when the Sox trailed by the same score, got the call again with two on and two outs in the seventh. Mendoza struck out Figgins to end the inning.