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04/11/09 3:40 AM ET
Sluggish Sox drop third straight
Emotionally charged Angels knock around Wakefield
By Ian Browne / MLB.com
ANAHEIM -- Not looking crisp at the plate or on the mound, the Red Sox fell into the throes of a three-game losing streak on Friday night, taking a 6-3 loss to the Angels. Of course, this night was about far more than baseball. It was the first time back on the field for the Angels since 22-year-old right-hander Nick Adenhart was killed in an automobile accident early Thursday morning. There was a video tribute in honor of Adenhart just prior to the game, and also a moment of silence in which both teams lined up on their respective foul lines. "It was emotional," said Red Sox manager Terry Francona. "And then you hear the words 'play ball' and it's like, 'whoa.' I thought the Angels, they've always had a lot of class. I thought it showed. There's a lot of good people over there. I don't know how hard it is, but I know there's a lot of good people trying to handle it together. They'll do it about as good as you can." Once the game started, the Angels swiftly took control, scoring three runs in the bottom of the second inning and never really looking back. The Red Sox stayed within striking distance until the bottom of the seventh, when reliever Justin Masterson was touched up for three runs to make it a 6-1 game. Masterson's mishap became more glaring in the top of the eighth, when the Red Sox rallied for two runs on a single by the sizzling Kevin Youkilis. Perhaps that late rally will help the Red Sox get their offense back on track. After scoring five runs on Opening Day, Boston has scored three runs or less in the last three games. "This is four games," said Youkilis. "This is 1/40th of the season. We're going to hit a spell and why not be now? There are bright things to come. We're not worried about it. I know a lot of people back home might be worried about it, [the media] might be worried about it. We're going to hit." The night was a grind for Red Sox knuckleballer Tim Wakefield, starting when the Angels loaded the bases in the first. Though he emerged from that jam, he wasn't so lucky in the second. The Angels jumped on the board first when Chone Figgins drilled a one-out double to center. Howard Kendrick followed with a two-run single to left, pinning the Red Sox in that 3-0 hole. "I just wasn't finding my location very well," said Wakefield. "It was a battle all night. I just tried to do my best to make my pitches when I needed to. A couple of flairs fell in, they scored three runs and that was it." Boston did get one back in the third on a sacrifice fly to center by David Ortiz. The Angels had a chance to break it open in the fifth, loading the bases with nobody out. But Wakefield dug down, getting a shallow flyout to right, a popup to first and a lineout to left. "Bases loaded, no outs, I got out of that jam which was nice," Wakefield said. "I made some pitches. I fell behind in some counts, got back even. I had a couple of strikeouts down 3-1. You have to take the good out of this somehow and I felt like I made the pitches when I needed to, where, sometimes I haven't." Give Wakefield credit for minimizing the damage. He made it a quality start, giving up six hits and three runs over six innings, walking five and striking out four. "We ended up getting the bullpen up in the fifth, but Wake goes out for the sixth, which is really big," Francona said. Aside from Youkilis, no Boston player has gotten off to a strong start offensively. But that could be a product of the opposing pitcher. During the three losses, the Red Sox faced Scott Kazmir, Matt Garza and Jered Weaver. "Weaver pitched well tonight," said Francona. "He threw all his pitches in a lot of fastball counts. He got his offspeed pitches over. That's what I've seen for the most part the last three games. It's early in the season and pitchers are throwing their offspeed pitches for strikes in fastball counts and we're still swinging [as if they're] fastballs." Given the circumstances of the night, the Red Sox were hardly in the mood to fret over a loss. If ever there was an occasion where a baseball game could be kept in perspective, this was it. "It was very emotional," Wakefield said. "Coming in here, we knew it was going to be a very emotional night and you try to still play the game. It's difficult knowing what they're going through over there, knowing what Nick's family is going through. It's just a sad situation all around. We've still got to play a game and still have to try to win, but being on the field and honoring him was huge for us -- to be able to share that with the Angels."
Ian Browne is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.