Angels get to Schilling; Nixon hurt
Right-hander loses first game at home this season
BOSTON -- Throughout his career, Curt Schilling has craved the big stage and thrived on it. In other words, Sunday night's prime time start for Schilling was far more the exception than the rule, as he was shelled by the Angels in one of his most disappointing performances of the season.
Schilling gave up six runs over the first three innings as the Red Sox were thumped, 10-4, in the rubber match of this three-game series at Fenway Park. It was the right-hander's first loss at home this season.
"Mistake after mistake," said Schilling. "Balls in the middle of the plate. Didn't execute pitches."
All in all, it was a frustrating night for the Red Sox, who saw their lead in the American League East chipped to a half-game by the Yankees, who beat Tampa Bay earlier Sunday.
Right fielder Trot Nixon had to leave the game after straining the biceps in his right arm on a swing and miss. He'll undergo an MRI on Monday.
"It didn't look very good," said Red Sox manager Terry Francona. "It's his right biceps and it's been bothering him on and off since Minnesota [in mid-June]. Hopefully, we can determine whether it's a couple of days or whether it's a DL. I don't think we're gonna know until he gets MRI'd."
As for this game, it had a bad feel to it early.
From the outset, it was clear that Schilling (five innings, 10 hits and six runs) did not have his good stuff. After leading off the game with a walk to Chone Figgins, Schilling gave up a double to Maicer Izturis and an RBI single to Vladimir Guerrero. The Red Sox bounced back with a run of their own in the bottom of the first on a fielder's choice RBI grounder by Manny Ramirez.
But the Angels reclaimed the lead in the second, getting an RBI triple from Adam Kennedy and an RBI double by Figgins.
The third inning was when Schilling truly felt the wrath of the Angels. Orlando Cabrera and Guerrero roped back-to-back homers to open the inning and, with one out, Juan Rivera cranked one over the Monster to make it 6-1.
"One-out fastball in the middle of the plate [to Cabrera]," Schilling said. "Hanging split [to Guerrero], then the ball that Rivera hit was a ball that I wanted. I didn't think it was a bad pitch but he got it. He got his hands in and got to it."
It was just one of those rare nights where Schilling (13-4, 3.84 ERA) didn't have it.
"That happens," said Red Sox first baseman Kevin Youkilis. "He's going to have a bad outing. You just hope this is the last one and he can finish out the year with all good outings."
Schilling was in a far less forgiving mood than his teammates.
"I never chalk it up," said Schilling. "It's disappointing. And one thing I have always expected 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."
Even with Schilling's early struggles, the Red Sox mounted a comeback in the fifth. Alex Gonzalez led off with a single and Alex Cora drilled a one-out double, setting up David Ortiz, who drove both runners in with a double into the gap in left-center. Ortiz now has 101 RBIs on the season, making him the first Sox player since 1950 (Vern Stephens and Walt Dropo) to get triple digits by the end of July.
With two outs, Wily Mo Pena, who replaced Nixon, delivered a broken bat double off the Monster to slim the deficit to 6-4. But a possible turning point came when Mike Lowell appeared to be hit by a pitch, but it was ruled a foul ball by home-plate umpire Kerwin Danley. Instead of the bases being loaded for Coco Crisp, Lowell struck out to end the inning before angrily tossing his helmet and bat to the ground.
"He just said he didn't think it hit him," said Francona of Danley. "I didn't really agree and I know Mike didn't. At that point, I know everyone is starting to show some frustration, so the last person I think needs to is me."
The air seemed to come out of the Red Sox from there. The Angels roped reliever Jermaine Van Buren (one-third of an inning, three hits, four runs) around the yard in the sixth, boosting the lead to 10-4.
It was a less than enthralling game on a day much of Red Sox Nation was concentrated on the blockbuster trade made by the Yankees which landed Bobby Abreu and Cory Lidle from the Phillies.
"This is a real goofy time every year," said Schilling. "If we don't do anything, we have to win with what we have. You don't count on something happening. I feel very good about the people we have here. In this town, it is such a day to day thing with momentum. People get so high and so low and one of the things that we have always done well as a team is not do either.
"Today is one of those days where they make a huge deal, they win a game, I pitch [lousy], we lose a game and everybody is at the extremes."
And despite a mulligan by Schilling, the Red Sox are confident he'll be back to his other extreme next time he takes the mound.
That, in part, was why Francona removed him after five innings even with his pitch count at just 89.
"I just think that there's a lot of starts left," Francona said.
Ian Browne is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.