BOSTON (AP)—Johnny Damon is still trying to knock down the center-field wall. Now he’s using his bat instead of his body.
Three games after knocking himself out of a game by running into an outfield fence, a stitched-up Damon hit a three-run double to break an eighth-inning tie and send the Boston Red Sox to a 7-4 victory over the Los Angeles Angels on Friday night.
“Any time I get 1-2 on a guy I think I’m in a good spot,” Shields said. “But you look at the year he’s having and you don’t have him until he’s walking back to the dugout.”
The Angels led 4-1 and Kelvim Escobar was coasting, allowing just three Red Sox hits and one unearned run over six innings. But Escobar, in just his second start since right elbow bone spurs landed him on the disabled list, was lifted after 95 pitches so Angels manager Mike Scioscia could turn the game over to his usually dependable bullpen.
Boston scored three times off Brendan Donnelly in the seventh and three more off Shields (4-3) in the eighth. The Angels had been 23-3 when leading after six innings, and the bullpen had stranded 44 of 50 inherited runners coming into the game—best in the AL.
“Brendan and Scot have been there all year for us,” Scioscia said. “They hit a little bump in the road here the last outing or two, but they’ll bounce back.”
Mike Myers (2-1) gave up one hit and an intentional walk in one inning, striking out two to win the matchup of first-round opponents from last year’s AL playoffs. Keith Foulke pitched the ninth, giving up three consecutive singles before striking out Finley with the bases loaded for his 12th save— his first since May 20.
It was 4-4 when Trot Nixon led off the eighth with a single and stole second on Jason Varitek’s strikeout. After Kevin Millar popped out, Bill Mueller was walked intentionally and No. 9 hitter Mark Bellhorn was walked unintentionally.
Damon, who lined out with the bases loaded in the second inning, followed with a shot that turned Finley around in straightaway center, clearing the bases.
“When a ball’s hit like that, you’re pretty much in no-man’s land,” said Damon, who’s batting .347 overall and 5-for-10 with two doubles and 13 RBIs this season with the bases loaded. “That ball just all of the sudden took off. I definitely wouldn’t have caught it.”
The bottom of the order also helped Boston tie it in the seventh. Millar doubled, Mueller walked and Bellhorn doubled to make it 4-2. Damon followed with an RBI groundout, and Edgar Renteria walked before Shields replaced Donnelly.
David Wells allowed four runs and nine hits in seven innings, striking out four. He fanned Finley in the first inning for his 2,000th career strikeout.
Orlando Cabrera, who endeared himself to Boston fans during last year’s World Series run, went 1-for-4 with a double and a run scored. The former Red Sox shortstop got a standing ovation before his first at-bat.
Among the celebrities in the crowd were David Lander, who played Squiggy in the sitcom “Laverne and Shirley,” and Susan St. James of “Kate and Allie.” St. James and her husband, NBC sports executive Dick Ebersol, were in town to attend the naming of a ballfield after their son, Teddy, who died in a plane crash. … Escobar walked two and struck out eight to lower his ERA to 2.97. … The Red Sox play 24 consecutive games against opponents from outside their division. … Mueller went 2-for-2 to snap an 0-for-13 slump. … Nixon’s stolen base was his first since 2003. … Garret Anderson was 1-for-3 against Wells and is 26-for-65 (.400) against him.