UPDATE, 3:51 p.m. BOTTOM OF THE NINTH: Brian Fuentes in to try and finish the game and the series. Boston has Jed Lowrie pinch hitting then the top of the order.
UPDATE, 3:46 p.m.: Jonathan Papelbon has melted down in the ninth inning, giving up three runs as the Angels have charged back to take a 7-6 lead.
With two outs and nobody on, Erick Aybar singled before Chone Figgins walked. Bobby Abreu’s double scored a run. The Red Sox then intentionally walked Torii Hunter to load the bases but Vladimir Guerrero made them pay with a two-run single.
Stunned silence here at Fenway with the Red Sox facing a sweep. Daisuke Matsuzaka in for Papelbon, who had never before given up a run in the postseason.
UPDATE, 3:27 p.m.: TOP OF NINTH: Youkilis to third base and Kotchman at first as Papelbon tries to finish the game.
UPDATE, 3:22 p.m.: Red Sox lead 6-4 as Lowell drives a single into right field. That gives Papelbon a little cushion in the ninth.
UPDATE, 3:20 p.m.: Yep, he stole second on a pitch-out. An extra run would be large here. Lowell with a chance to deliver.
UPDATE, 3:17 p.m.: David Ortiz, booed in the sixth inning, broke an 0-for-11 series skid with a two-out single up the middle. Joey Gathright ran for him. Gathright is on the roster for one reason and one reason only and that’s to steal a base. You have to figure he’ll be going.
UPDATE, 3:09 p.m., MIDDLE OF THE EIGHTH: Juan Rivera was 0 for 8 against Papelbon. But he bounced a two-run single into right field. Then, inexplicably, pinch runners Reggie Willits was picked off. That by a pitcher who usually ignores runners. That is bad, bad baseball there.
UPDATE, 3:02 p.m.: No time to mess around. Two on, two out in the top of the eighth. Crank up the Dropkick Murphys. When you have a lockdown closer, a four-out save in the postseason is expected. Papelbon in to face Rivera. This could be the game right here as the bottom of the Angels order will be hard-pressed to mount much against Papelbon.
UPDATE, 2:50 p.m.: END OF THE SEVENTH: Canny move here by the Red Sox as they’re saving all their offense for Game 4. The last hit came in the fourth inning when Drew homered. They have only five knocks on the day. But what counts is the score and Bard has handed a 5-2 lead to Billy Wagner as Jonathan Papelbon warms up.
UPDATE, 2:36 p.m.:, MIDDLE OF THE SEVENTH: Daniel Bard throws wicked hard. Two innings, 0 hits, 0 runs, 0 walks, 2 strikeouts. Just when the Angels thought they were in it, he pulled them back out. Still six outs to get, however.
UPDATE, 2:28 p.m. END OF THE SIXTH: Kazmir has settled into a little groove, retiring eight of the last nine batters he has faced. Score remains 5-2. Bard back out for the seventh and Billy Wagner warming up.
UPDATE, 2:17 p.m., MIDDLE OF THE SIXTH: That’s man’s work right there by Daniel Bard. Rivera provides the “thanks very much” 5-4-3 DP and Izturis pops to shortstop. Final line for Buchholz: 5 6 2 2 1 3. He threw 95 pitches, 58 strikes.
UPDATE, 2:11 p.m.: Buchholz lost it fast. Hunter doubled, he balked on a stolen-base attempt, Guerrero reached on an infield single and Morales walked on four pitches. Daniel Bard in to try and clean up the mess. Sox will gladly trade a run for a double-play grounder here and Rivera had 19 of those this season.
Buchholz got a standing ovation for going 5+ innings and leaving with the bases loaded. Polite applause would have sufficed. The standards for ovation-worthy starts have slipped.
UPDATE, 2:04 p.m.: Hunter doubles and Daniel Bard gets up.
UPDATE, 2:00 p.m., END OF THE FIFTH: Kazmir got himself together with an easy fifth inning, retiring the side in order Buchholz back out for the sixth. He is at 85 pitches and this could be it. Important inning here as he faces Hunter, Guerrero and Morales.
UPDATE, 1:51 p.m., MIDDLE OF THE FIFTH: Mike Napoli started the Los Angeles fifth with a double down the left-field line. But Buchholz struck out first Aybar and then Figgins looking before getting Abreu to fly to center. Impressive work by the young man so far this afternoon. His line: 5 4 1 1 0 3
UPDATE, 1:37 p.m.: BOTTOM OF THE FOURTH: There’s that breathing room I was talking about. Lowell singled off The Wall and Drew drilled a fastball of the television platform in dead center. Sox up 5-1, the crowd is alive and we’ve got a series.
With Jon Lester going on short rest tomorrow, two more innings out of Buchholz would be huge. He starts the fifth inning having thrown 66 pitches.
UPDATE, 1:29 p.m., MIDDLE OF THE FOURTH: Kendry Morales got one back with a solo homer to right. But Buchholz is doing his job. Now the question is how much of a leash he’ll have before Francona puts the bullpen into action. There is no margin for error. Sox needs the bats to create some.
UPDATE, 1:24 p.m., BOTTOM OF THE THIRD: Sox take a 3-0 lead as Pedroia doubles in two and Martinez drives an RBI single to left.
Counting the postseason, Pedroia is 18 of 37 (.486) with eight extra-base hits (3 HR) and seven RBI against Kazmir. So much of baseball is right place, right time.
UPDATE, 1;14 p.m.: BOTTOM OF THE THIRD: Gonzalez walks, Ellsbury singles and Pedroia hammers a two-run double off the wall. He is 15 of 29 against Kazmir in the regular season.
Doctor, we have a pulse. Sox up 2-0.
UPDATE, 1:05 p.m.: MIDDLE OF THE THIRD: Efficient 1-2-3 inning by Buchholz thanks to a diving catch by Ellsbury in center that took a hit away from Abreu. CB Bucknor is on the right-field line today. Wonder how that is working out for him?
UPDATE, 12:57 p.m.: END OF THE SECOND: The crowd is so hungry for offense that they stirred when Jason Bay walked with one out. Then Ortiz (9 for 45 against Kazmir) popped to left and Lowell flew to center.
This doesn’t seem possible, but going back to Game 7 of the ALCS last season the Red Sox have one run on 10 hits in their last 28 postseason innings.
UPDATE, 12:47 p.m.: MIDDLE OF THE SECOND: Buchholz has swing-and-miss stuff so far today. The problem is that he has already thrown 42 pitches. He can’t keep on this pace for long. Daisuke Matsuzaka was playing catch at one point in the bullpen during the inning.
Meanwhile, in the latest bit of bad 2009 postseason umpiring, Eric Cooper ruled that a Buchholz pitch hit Mike Napoli even though it appeared to catch only the knob of his bat. Victor Martinez pointed it out right away and Francona came out to argue. But Napoli as awarded first base.
UPDATE, 12:30 p.m., END OF THE FIRST: Three up and three down quietly for the Sox. One run in 19 innings and they’re 8 of 64 (.125) at the plate. Get the feeling that the first team to score in this game wins it?
UPDATE, 12:23 p.m., BOTTOM OF THE FIRST: Bobby Abreu singled with one out and took second when Kevin Youkilis missed a pickoff throw. But Buchholz worked out of the jam by getting Torii Hunter to line to center then Vlad Guererro on a grounder to second.
The bad news: Buchholz threw 21 pitches in the inning,
PRE-GAME: Plenty going on here at Boston.com and Extra Bases. Amalie Benjamin and Adam Kilgore will be chatting with you during the game and I’ll have in-game updates and observations.
Clay Buchholz throws a ball to Chone Figgins are we are underway. Enjoy the game, everybody. Good sports day here in New England.