Such was the case Wednesday night at Fenway as the lead changed hands three times in the late innings, thanks to a botched tailor-made double play, a third-strike passed ball and a ninth-inning bases-loaded walk.
Paul Byrd’s promising starting performance was long forgotten by the time things started heating up in this back-and-forth affair.
The Red Sox trailed 3-0 before getting the comeback theme started by plating five runs in the sixth. They came back again from a 7-5 deficit with two runs on the Angels bullpen in the eighth. And they ended it with a walk-off bloop in the bottom of the ninth off the bat of Alex Gonzalez to win it 9-8.
The victory, coupled with the Rangers' 4-0 loss to the A's, boosts the Red Sox' wild-card lead to 6 1/2 games.
Red Sox 9, Angels 8
Fenway Park, Boston, Mass.
September 16, 2009
Headliner: Alex Gonzalez popped a pair of bloop hits, but both proved to be of great importance to the Red Sox offense in the wacky win. Gonzo's bloop to right in the sixth plated two runs to break up a 5-5 tie and the shortstop later lofted a bases-loaded, walk-off single to left to score J.D. Drew with the winning run in the bottom of the ninth.
Dirt dog: Although he allowed nine hits and a walk, Paul Byrd held the Angels offense to just three runs over 5 1/3 innings. Byrd also picked up a season-high four strikeouts against the Halos, who own the highest batting average in baseball and the second-highest run total. It was the righty’s second-longest outing of the season as he lowered his ERA from 6.08 to 5.79.
Better luck next time: Not only did Jason Varitek end the evening as the only starter on either team to fail to get a hit or run, he allowed a crucial passed ball to squirt through his legs in the seventh inning, igniting an Angels comeback.
Key moment: With the bases loaded and two outs in the bottom of the ninth inning with the Sox trailing 8-7, pinch hitter Nick Green dug himself into a quick 0-2 count. He then proceeded to foul off three pitches and draw four balls — the final two drawing groans from the Angels dugout — to walk and force home the game-tying run. Gonzalez followed with his game-winning bloop to left.
On deck: Ace Josh Beckett wraps up the three-game set with the Halos in search of his 16th win of the season. Taking on Beckett will be Ervin Santana, who has never won at Fenway Park in his five-year career.
Beckett is looking for his 10th win at Fenway this year. The 29-year-old righty hurled five rain-shortened innings in his last outing while giving up just one run. The ace has had plenty of trouble in his career against the Halos as he sports a 2-3 record with a 4.26 ERA in seven career starts against the AL West leaders.
Santana takes the hill with a 7-8 record and a 5.52 ERA. The righty was solid in his last outing, when he held the White Sox to just two runs on seven hits over seven innings but picked up a no-decision. Santana hasn’t won a game since Aug. 22, which capped off a streak of four straight personal victories. In five career starts against the Sox, the 26-year-old is 1-2 with a 5.67 ERA with both losses coming at Fenway Park.