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Angels show Sox no mercy

Loss in trip opener is their sixth straight

ANAHEIM, Calif. -- The Red Sox tried unsuccessfully last night to avoid their longest losing streak since the Kerrigan administration, and they tried it without Manny Ramírez -- who was not in the lineup because of his hallmark injury, a tender hamstring -- while introducing the newest hope for the future, Dustin Pedroia.

Ramírez surfaced for a pinch-hit appearance in the ninth, lining out violently to deep center field to start the inning, but the Sox still fell, 4-3, to the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim, their sixth straight loss. In the AL East, the Sox remained 6 1/2 games behind the Yankees, who lost to Seattle on Adrian Beltre's walkoff home run, and they also stayed four behind in the wild-card race to the White Sox, losers to Detroit.

``Believe me, this is not fun," said Red Sox manager Terry Francona, who called a team meeting before the game. ``This is horrible. But not only me and the staff believe in them, but they believe in each other as a team. We're going to keep playing. That's all we can do."

The outcome was still in doubt until Kevin Youkilis, batting in Ramírez's cleanup spot against Angels closer Frankie Rodriguez, lined to Vladi Guerrero in deep right with two on and two out to end the game. Youkilis slammed his helmet to the ground in frustration, as the Sox finished 1 for 11 with runners in scoring position.

One of those opportunities came in Pedroia's first big-league at-bat, when Angels shortstop Orlando Cabrera made a leaping catch of his bases-loaded liner and turned it into a double play. Pedroia singled on his next at-bat for his first big-league hit, but struck out with two on to end the sixth. Francona said Pedroia will start at second tonight.

``I got away with one against Manny," said Rodriguez, who challenged Ramírez with an 0-and-2 fastball that Ramírez drove to the wall in center, where it was hauled down by Chone Figgins.

Rodriguez held on for his 35th save as the Angels won their fifth straight to move a season-best eight games over .500.

The Sox, swept five games by the Yankees last weekend, had not lost more than five straight since a nine-game losing streak in 2001, when Kerrigan was manager and Ramirez famously walked into the manager's office and told him, ``I don't like you, I don't want to play for you, I'm out of here," according to another member of the team, then proceeded to disappear for a couple of days.

He resurfaced in Fort Myers, Fla., where he had gone, according to the team, to rehabilitate -- what else? -- a tender hamstring.

Francona said he expects Ramírez, who reached base 17 times in the Yankees series before bowing out in midgame Monday, to play tonight. Asked if the hardest thing he did all night was to fill out a lineup card that did not have Ramírez's name, Francona said, ``If you can't do it, you can't do it. When you try to do it and lose a guy for a week, that's wrong."

Angels outfielder Garret Anderson, who misplayed Youkilis's fly ball into a game-tying double in the top of the seventh, singled home Vladi Guerrero with the deciding run in the bottom of the inning. Guerrero had reached on a two-out double off Kason Gabbard, the freshly returned lefty who took the loss.

Trailing, 3-2, entering the seventh, the Sox tied the score when David Ortiz drew a two-out walk from Scot Shields, the third Angels pitcher, and Youkilis dropped a double in front of left fielder Anderson, who ignored the circumstances -- two outs, a one-run game -- and not only missed the sliding catch but allowed the ball to skip past him, enabling Ortiz to score from first.

Coco Crisp led off the game with a double, but Angels starter Joe Saunders set down the next three batters, the rookie lefty striking out Mark Loretta, retiring Ortiz on a roller to second, and getting Youkilis on a called third strike.

Loretta hit a one-out single in the third and was forced by Ortiz. Youkilis drew a walk and Wily Mo Peña lined a ball to left-center. Figgins was within range, having gotten a nice jump, and actually slowed down a hair to make the catch, but the ball popped out of his glove for a two-base error, Ortiz and Youkilis scoring easily. Mike Lowell flied to right to end the inning.

Pedroia collected his first big-league hit in his next at-bat, lining a two-out single to center. He advanced no farther, as Crisp flied out.

The Angels, meanwhile, pecked away at Sox starter Kyle Snyder, who was on a short leash after pitching twice in relief on the weekend. Snyder avoided trouble in the first after giving up Cabrera's two-out double and walking Guerrero, the two players advancing on a double steal, by retiring Anderson on a called third strike. But the Angels got single runs in the second, third, and fourth.

Juan Rivera led off the home second with his 21st home run, over the center-field wall.

A collision between Gabe Kapler and Loretta on Guerrero's blooper to right set up the second Angels' run. Three players -- Kapler, Loretta, and first baseman Youkilis -- converged on the ball, with Kapler appearing to have the best angle. At the last moment, Loretta turned away in an attempt to avoid both the diving Kapler and the oncoming Youkilis, but he clipped Kapler's head as the ball fell in safely. Cabrera, who had held up thinking the ball would be caught, stopped at third, but he scored on Anderson's roller to second.

In the fourth, Robb Quinlan blooped a one-out single over Loretta's head, stole second, and scored on Figgins's line single to right.

Francona had said the most he could expect from Snyder was 75-80 pitches, and indeed, he had Gabbard and Bryan Corey warming up in the fifth, when Snyder gave up a two-out single to Anderson.

Pitching coach Dave Wallace came to the mound after Rivera singled through the left side, Snyder's pitch count at 83. But Snyder responded by retiring Adam Kennedy on a grounder to second to end the inning.

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