BOSTON (AP)—The Anaheim Angels crowded around video monitors in their clubhouse after a 6-5 victory over Boston on Friday night, watching replays of Jeff DaVanon crashing into the wall in pursuit of Trot Nixon’s line drive.
Although the players and coaches argued about whether the ball would have been a homer if DaVanon hadn’t touched it, one thing was certain:
“It was a heck of an effort, either way,” manager Mike Scioscia said. “He almost made a terrific catch, but it’s just an incredible effort for him to keep that ball in the park.”
The Angels rallied from a four-run deficit to take a 5-4 lead, then took the lead again after Boston tied it in the seventh. It was still 6-5 with two out in the bottom of the eighth when Nixon drove the ball toward the short fence outside the right-field bullpen.
DaVanon tracked the ball to the wall and snagged it before he crashed into the fence, his glove continuing over the wall after the impact. The ball popped up, and DaVanon tried unsuccessfully to grab it with his bare hand; Nixon made it to third easily with a triple.
“That’s why I don’t play football,” DaVanon said, “because I can’t hold it after I get hit.”
Brendan Donnelly got Shea Hillenbrand to ground out to first to end the inning, protecting the lead and his perfect ERA through 22 1-3 innings this season. Troy Percival came on in the ninth to earn his sixth save in as many opportunities, striking out the first two batters before getting Johnny Damon to pop up to right on the 11th pitch of the final at-bat.
DaVanon, who was an eighth-inning pinch-runner and defensive replacement, seemed uncomfortable getting so much attention for a ball he dropped. But Donnelly, for one, was grateful.
“I thought it was gone,” he said. “I know I got his best effort.”
Brad Fullmer was 3-for-4 with an RBI double that gave Anaheim its first lead of the game as the Angels returned to the small ball that helped them win the World Series. In addition to 11 hits, they also took advantage of two Boston errors, three wild pitches and a hit batsman.
“They came back from a 4-0 deficit,” Boston outfielder Johnny Damon said. “That’s why they won the World Series last year. There’s no quit in them. They did what it took.”
Francisco Rodriguez (4-1) blew a 5-4 lead in the seventh but got the win when the Angels took the lead back in the eighth. He allowed one run on one hit and a walk, striking out two in one inning.
Alan Embree (2-1) gave up one run on two hits and a walk in one inning.
The Red Sox led 4-0 before Anaheim scored on a pair of RBI groundouts in the third. The Angels tied it in the fifth on two walks, an error, two wild pitches and Scott Spiezio’s double.
Tim Salmon doubled and scored on Fullmer’s double to break the tie in the seventh. Boston made it 5-all on Damon’s RBI single.
Todd Walker, Nomar Garciaparra and Manny Ramirez hit consecutive singles in the first to score one run before Hillenbrand hit a two-run single to make it3-0. Jeremy Giambi homered to lead off the second and make it 4-0.
Spiezio popped up to second base in the second inning to end a streak of reaching base nine consecutive plate appearances. He had five hits, three walks and a hit by pitch. Bobby Grich set the Anaheim franchise record with 12 in 1984. … Eckstein and Garret Anderson are the only two Angels to have started all 40 games. … Sunday will be “Sun Awareness Day” at Fenway Park, sponsored by the Red Sox and the Massachusetts Melanoma Foundation. Fans will receive a kit with sun block, information on avoiding sunburn and a card of Boston P Derek Lowe, who had a cancerous growth removed from his nose over the winter. … Garciaparra extended his hitting streak to 17 games with a first-inning single. It’s the longest active streak in the major leagues. … Damon stole a base in the second inning. He was thrown out in the fourth for his first caught stealing of the year after 10 successful attempts. … Before the game, the Red Sox promoted the upcoming series with the New York Yankees, playing music from the movie “Star Wars.” Red Sox president Larry Lucchino has taken to referring to the Yankees as “The Evil Empire.” … Salmon drew his 867th walk as an Angel in the eighth, breaking the club record held byBrian Downing. … The Angels held a team meeting before the game.