Road gives Red Sox cold shoulder
Swept by Anaheim in three-game set, Boston looks for answers
ANAHEIM -- There was a familiar getaway day hush in the Red Sox's clubhouse following the latest agonizing road loss -- this one by a score of 5-3 to the Angels on Sunday afternoon.
As players packed their bags and got ready for the flight to Seattle, barely a word could be heard, other than players speaking quietly to reporters.
The scene has repeated itself more than the Red Sox care to remember. After being swept in three games by the Angels, Boston has now been given the broom treatment in six road series this season.
It always seems to come down to one or two mislocated pitches and missed opportunities by the offense.
"The last road trip and the way this has started -- not good," said Red Sox second baseman Dustin Pedroia. "They're tough. Losing one, two-run games is always tough. We have to find a way to have better at-bats. That's the main thing. We're going to win games getting five or six hits and getting two or three runs. The approach is there. It's just a matter of doing it."
The Sox, who are 1 1/2 games behind Tampa Bay in the American League East, have lost 10 of their past 12 road games.
Just like on Saturday, when Josh Beckett took a 2-0 lead into the bottom of the seventh only to have it slip away, the Red Sox were in position to win this one.
This time it was Tim Wakefield, who was brilliant over his first seven innings, taking a 3-2 lead into the eighth.
But it was gone quicker than you could say "Rally Monkey".
Juan Rivera poked a leadoff double down the line in left to start the bottom of the eighth. Then came one of Wakefield's only misfires of the day, a knuckleball left a little up that Howie Kendrick ripped into left for a game-tying double.
"Early on, he left two pitches up to Vlad [Guerrero] and Torii Hunter and they hit them a long way," said Red Sox manager Terry Francona. "Other than that, he was tremendous, just like he's been every time out. We send him back out and they have the two quick hits and all of a sudden the game's completely turned around. Tie game on the road and we didn't get it done from there."
Out came Wakefield and in came Manny Delcarmen, whose sole mission was to keep the game tied and prevent a Francisco Rodriguez save opportunity in the ninth. It didn't happen.
Jeff Mathis bunted Kendrick to third and Chone Figgins walked on a close 3-2 pitch. Up stepped Casey Kotchman, who hammered a meaty changeup for a two-run double to right to put the Sox in a two-run hole, one they could not climb out of.
"I felt great," Delcarmen said. "My changeup was awesome in the 'pen. I left it up and gave up a hit on it."
It was yet another tough-luck loss for Wakefield, who is 6-7 despite a solid 3.69 ERA. Over Wakefield's last 10 starts, he's gone seven innings nine times and given up three earned runs or less nine times.
Nothing is going his way.
"With Wake, that's all you can ask for out of a starting pitcher," said Pedroia. "He threw the ball great. He has all year on the road and at home. We just don't score any runs for him. I feel bad for him."
Wakefield isn't one to feel bad for himself. He's simply upset that his performances aren't resulting in wins for his team.
"It [stinks]," said Wakefield. "I did what I had to do. Got to the eighth with a lead. I left one pitch up to tie the game. I was throwing strikes, didn't walk anybody, was mixing my other pitches in. I just didn't get it done."
Catcher Kevin Cash has become nearly exasperated at his batterymate's misfortune.
"It sounds like a broken record," said Cash. "I keep repeating myself. He was outstanding again today."
On a weekend in which everything was going wrong, the Red Sox finally seemed to get a break in the top of the seventh when, with Coco Crisp on second, Jacoby Ellsbury hit a routine flyball to right. Somehow, Guerrero dropped the ball for an error and Crisp scored easily to make it 3-2 in favor of the Sox.
"That was nice," Pedroia said. "The first night, a lot of things didn't go our way. Yesterday was tough. Then it finally seems like we're going to break through there and get that lead and they hit the back-to-back doubles and had all the momentum. They put the [darn] monkey on the board and the place went nuts."
Guerrero and Hunter gave the Angels a quick jolt in the second by tagging Wakefield for back-to-back solo homers to make it 2-0.
But the Red Sox didn't take long to respond. Red-hot Pedroia, who is hitting .322, ignited Boston's rally in the third with a one-out single up the middle. With two outs, Manny Ramirez crushed an RBI double to the gap in right-center. Mike Lowell followed by going to the opposite field for an RBI single to right that scored Ramirez from second to tie the game. Lowell was tagged out in a rundown to end the inning.
As the Red Sox departed Angel Stadium, it was fair to wonder if they might make a return trip in October. The Angels hold the best record in the Majors at 60-38.
"I don't think this is a statement series this early in the season," said Angels manager Mike Scioscia. "That's a tough club. We played well this weekend, but I don't think there's any carryover. I thought we played terrific baseball against a tough club and got timely hitting. That's a good combination."
The Red Sox just wish they could find it themselves -- particularly while wearing their road uniforms.
"We'll be all right," said Pedroia. "It's a long year. We have 60-something games left. We need to find our way and find it fast, because that's what the season is about."
Ian Browne is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.