Angels 10, Red Sox 4
ANAHEIM, Calif. (AP)—On the same night his former baby sitter broke Hank Aaron’s home run record, Gary Matthews Jr. hit one himself and robbed another player of another.
“I have a little bit different perspective than most players because I’ve known Barry since I was a kid,” Matthews said while sitting on a couch watching replays of Bonds’ historic homer on the clubhouse television. “I mean, I’ve never hit more than 20 in a season—and this guy just passed 755. That’s such a great accomplishment. You can’t fathom how many home runs that is.”
Joe Saunders (6-0) allowed four runs and eight hits in 5 1-3 innings. With the victory, the Angels maintained a four-game lead over Seattle in the AL West.
Knuckleballer Tim Wakefield (13-10) allowed seven runs—six earned—and seven hits in four-plus innings. Boston’s lead in the AL East, a season-high 12 games as recently July 5, was cut to five games over the second-place Yankees. It’s the smallest lead for the Red Sox since May 2, when they led by 4 1/2 .
In the middle game of a series featuring the teams with the two best records in baseball, the Red Sox took a 4-2 lead in the fifth on Doug Mirabelli’s two-run homer and an RBI double by Kevin Youkilis. But the Angels responded with five in the bottom half to pull ahead 7-4.
Orlando Cabrera burned his former team with an RBI double, and Matthews put the Angels back in front with a two-run single through the left side that chased Wakefield. Garret Anderson slid home under Mirabelli’s tag on Maicer Izturis’ grounder to second baseman Dustin Pedroia with the infield in, and Jeff Mathis delivered Matthews with a squeeze bunt that was ruled a single after reliever Manny Delcarmen bobbled the ball.
“It happened in a hurry,” Boston manager Terry Francona said. “We have a four-pitch walk, double, walk, error, and so we go to Delcarmen to stop it right there and it got away.
“When you play them, the game is at a fast pace. They’re so aggressive in all aspects of the game—hitting, running the bases—so if you’re not ready for it, they can run you into mistakes. And we allowed that to happen a few times.”
Matthews made his acrobatic catch on Crisp to end the fourth inning. He did the same thing to Detroit’s Craig Monroe on July 27 at Angel Stadium—only that time, he prevented a grand slam.
“I’ve gotten pretty good at timing it, but sometimes it’s just a matter of can you get back to the wall in time,” Matthews said. “It’s not an easy park to play in because you’ve got to get back to the wall so fast and then slow it down a hair so you can time the jump. No matter how east people think it is, it’s not an easy play. But I do practice it sometimes in batting practice, so I knew I had a pretty good shot.”
Mathis put the Halos ahead 2-1 in the bottom half of the fourth with a hit-and-run double. It scored Izturis, whose seventh-inning homer off Curt Schilling in the series opener was the go-ahead run in a 4-2 Angels victory.
Matthews hit his 14th home run of the year, a solo shot, in the bottom of the eighth.
Crisp, who has only one RBI in his last nine games, was robbed of another one in the sixth. Mike Lowell tried to score from first on his double to left field, but was erased on a textbook relay from Anderson to Cabrera to Mathis.
Youkilis set a franchise record for most consecutive fielding chances by a first baseman without an error when he made an unassisted putout on Anderson’s grounder in the seventh. Youkilis finished with seven putouts and two assists, extending his streak to 1,305 total chances since his last miscue on July 4, 2006, at Tampa Bay. The previous mark of 1,300 straight was set in 1921 by Stuffy McInnis, whose club record of 117 consecutive errorless games was shattered by Youkilis earlier this season.
Chone Figgins singled on Wakefield’s first pitch of the game and stole second, making him the first player in the Angels’ 47-year history with four consecutive seasons of 30 or more steals.
Mirabelli has caught all 41 of Wakefield’s starts since being reacquired from San Diego on May 1, 2006 for C Josh Bard and reliever Cla Meredith. The Red Sox had little choice but to bring Mirabelli back, after Bard had committed 10 passed balls in Wakefield’s first four starts last season. According to the Elias Sports Bureau, Mirabelli has had 12 passed balls with Wakefield on the mound since returning to the Sox. … Figgins’ first-inning steal was the 100th of the season for the Angels, the seventh straight season they’ve reached triple digits. They lead the AL and are attempting to join the Chicago White Sox and Milwaukee Brewers as the only franchises in history to lead their league in that category four years in a row.