Tuesday, July 29, 2008
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Angels beat Dice-K, win 6th straight over Red Sox

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[July 29, 2008]  BOSTON (AP) -- Casey Kotchman and Torii Hunter homered in a six-run sixth inning and the Los Angeles Angels improved baseball's best record with a 7-5 win over Daisuke Matsuzaka and the Boston Red Sox on Monday night.

Auto RepairKotchman's two-run homer gave the Angels a 3-2 lead. Hunter's three-run shot drove Matsuzaka (11-2) from the game and equaled the total number of runs he had allowed in his previous five starts. Matsuzaka hadn't given up a homer in any of those games.

Manny Ramirez singled home the Red Sox first two runs and homered off Francisco Rodriguez for the last run in the ninth. It was his 20th homer, making him the eighth player in baseball history to hit that many in 14 consecutive seasons.

It came a day after he said he would agree to a trade if it would make him and the Red Sox happy. They have a $20 million option for next year on Ramirez, who said he was "tired" of the team.

The Angels won their sixth straight over the Red Sox, including a three-game sweep in Los Angeles from July 18-20.


Despite allowing the home run, Rodriguez got his major league best 44th save in 47 chances. With more than two months left in the season, he is just 13 saves shy of Bobby Thigpen's record of 57 with the White Sox in 1990. No other player this season has more than 30 saves.

Jered Weaver (9-8) allowed three runs in 5 1-3 innings in his first start since last Wednesday when he left after three innings with tightness in his middle back.

Los Angeles (65-40) improved baseball's best road record to 34-19. Boston has the AL's best home record at 37-14, but has lost three of its last four at Fenway Park.

The Red Sox remained one game behind AL East leader Tampa Bay, which lost at Toronto. The Angels started the day with a 10 1/2-game lead in the AL West over Oakland.

Los Angeles took a 1-0 lead in the second on a bases-loaded sacrifice fly by Juan Rivera.

Boston managed just a single in the first three innings before taking a 2-1 lead in the fourth. Kevin Youkilis drew a leadoff walk, David Ortiz doubled and Ramirez singled them home.

Matsuzaka retired the side in order in the fourth and fifth, striking out three of the six batters, but in the sixth the first five batters all reached base -- and scored.

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Chone Figgins walked then stole second on the first pitch to Kotchman. On the next pitch, Kotchman connected for his 12th homer of the season. Maicer Izturis then doubled, Vladimir Guerrero singled and both scored on Hunter's 16th homer. He had two homers and five RBIs in an 11-6 win over Baltimore on Saturday.

Justin Masterson then replaced Matsuzaka and allowed the final run of the inning on a suicide squeeze by Jeff Mathis that scored Howie Kendrick.

The Red Sox squandered opportunities in the sixth, when Jacoby Ellsbury struck out with the bases loaded, and the seventh, when Ramirez grounded into an inning-ending double play with runners at first and second.

Notes: Rivera extended his hitting streak to 11 games. Hunter's reached 10. ... Matsuzaka allowed seven hits, just the second time in 18 starts he had given up more than six. He allowed seven in the other two. ... Pedroia failed to reach base for the first time in 30 games, going 0-for-5. ... Matsuzaka missed a chance to join five other Red Sox pitchers who started a season at 12-1 or better -- Roger Clemens (13-0) and Cy Young, Dick Radatz, Bob Stanley and Tim Wakefield (all 12-1).

[Associated Press; By HOWARD ULMAN]

Copyright 2008 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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