By the time Juan Rivera's home run cleared the Green Monster, landing in the front row, Curt Schilling must have been mighty tired of the soaring baseballs. The shot by Rivera marked the third in four batters that found its way out of the park. It was probably not what Schilling had envisioned for his stint on ``Sunday Night Baseball."
``Mistake after mistake," said a subdued Schilling after the 10-4 loss. ``Balls in the middle of the plate. Didn't execute pitches."
The three home runs in the third inning, by Orlando Cabrera (on a fastball over the heart of the plate), Vladimir Guerrero (on a hanging splitter), and Rivera (on a fastball that should have been more inside), gave the Angels a five-run advantage. They also marked the second time in Schilling's career he served up three homers in a single frame, the first coming Sept. 21, 1997 against the Cubs at Wrigley Field when he wore a Phillies uniform.
But, rather than bemoan all the fastballs hit by the Angels, Schilling (13-4) focused instead on the fact that he lasted just five innings. He didn't protect his bullpen or his fellow starters. Matching his season low of five innings -- he's gone fewer than six just twice this season prior to last night, on back-to-back starts in May -- Schilling acknowledged the bullpen was in an even more precarious situation with the returning David Wells and the struggling Kyle Snyder following him in the rotation.
``I didn't feel like I made a lot of great pitches tonight," said Schilling (who gave up six runs on 10 hits, with five strikeouts) . ``But every mistake I made, they hit.
``I never just chalk it up. It is disappointing. And one thing I have always expected of myself is to give this team innings . . . One thing in addition to winning the game is going deep in the game. Five innings is just not good."
Despite seeming to get stronger in the fourth and fifth innings, when Schilling faced the minimum six batters -- as part of a stretch in which he retired the last eight straight Angels -- he left after throwing just 88 pitches. He was replaced by Jermaine Van Buren (who started warming up in the third) when the Angels' lead had shrunk to just two runs (6-4). But the Angels came back in the sixth with four runs.
Schilling said manager Terry Francona thought about taking him out as early as the third, but the pitcher said he had a talk with his manager. ``If he wanted to take me out because he didn't have confidence in me getting people out, I couldn't argue," Schilling said. ``But I didn't want him to take me out for any other reason, whether it be my psyche or feeling good or anything like that. I knew we needed innings on top of a win."
``He's a heck of a pitcher," Angels manager Mike Scioscia said. ``When he makes mistakes, you have to square them up because there's not going to be many of them. Tonight we squared some baseballs up."
Though Schilling struck out the side in the first inning (Chone Figgins looking at a 94-mile-per-hour fastball, Cabrera swinging on a 93-m.p.h. fastball, and Rivera on an 86-m.p.h. splitter), he allowed a Wall double to Maicer Izturis, followed by a run-scoring single to Guerrero. And, after only an inning, he was down 1-0 to the Angels.
After the Red Sox tied the score in the first, the Angels came back at Schilling with the bottom of the order providing a good measure of offense -- a double by Howie Kendrick, a double by Adam Kennedy that Trot Nixon misplayed into a triple, and a double by Figgins that scored two more runs. Schilling, who barely had a softly hit ball off him, was helped only when Figgins was caught rounding second base for a 7-5-4 (left fielder to third baseman to second baseman) out.
``He gave up so many hits early," Francona said. ``It seemed like every fastball he threw, they were ready and jumped on it. He actually threw some good splits. They laid off a few, and then he kind of gathered himself, which was good because it kept us out of our pen really early. Once he got through the fifth, I just think there's a lot of starts left."