ANAHEIM, Calif. - J.D. Drew looked pretty feeble as he swung and missed a pair of off-speed pitches from Francisco Rodriguez. He sure didn't miss a third one.
Drew hit a towering two-run homer off Rodriguez in the ninth inning, giving the Boston Red Sox a 7-5 victory over the Los Angeles Angels on Frieday night and a 2-0 lead in their first-round AL playoff series.
So now, thanks to another Boston postseason victory over the Angels, the team with baseball's best record this year is on the verge of elimination.
"We've always been good about turning the page on any game during the season and not taking whatever happened in the previous game into the next one," Angels outfielder Garret Anderson said. "Obviously, you have history against you when you're down 2-0. That's how hard it is, and it's factual, but that doesn't mean it can't be done."
Tampa Bay, the Los Angeles Dodgers and Philadelphia also have 2-0 first-round series leads. Of the 35 teams to fall behind 2-0 in the division series before this year, just five have come back to advance, according to the Elias Sports Bureau. And only one the 2001 New York Yankees came back to win after losing the first two at home.
"This was huge," Drew said. "We were in a spot: tie ballgame. They had seemingly had the momentum."
But Drew, who played in only two of his team's final 38 regular-season games because of back problems, took it away with one swing.
Because of his back, Drew admitted to having doubts about his participation in the postseason as the regular season wound down.
"I thought at some point I was going to have to shut it down and watch the team go through the playoffs, so it's nice to be out there," he said. "It's just trying to get everything back into playing shape while you're in the playoffs. It isn't the easiest thing to do, but it's working out."
Of his game-winning homer, Drew said: "It was a changeup. He left it in and I squared it up nice enough to get it out of the park."
Now one win from advancing to the AL championship series, Boston won its 11th consecutive postseason game against the Angels, outscoring them 80-33 and setting the record for most postseason victories in a row over one opponent. The Red Sox won their ninth consecutive postseason game overall as well.
Boston swept the Angels in the first round in 2004 and last year, both times en route to World Series titles.
"That is so far in the past, and in about 10 minutes tonight it will be in the past," Red Sox manager Terry Francona said. "What happened in '04 or 1986 does not matter to us. We set out to win today's game. It was difficult, but we did it. Now, we'll go prepare for the next game."
Game 3 will be Sunday night in Boston, with Joe Saunders pitching for the Angels against Josh Beckett, who was pushed back from the opener after injuring a muscle in his side.
"There is a challenge in front of us and the only way to meet it is going to be pitch by pitch, inning by inning on Sunday," Angels manager Mike Scioscia said. "We played well in their park all year, and we have to do it now."
Drew's RBI double and Jason Bay's three-run homer off Ervin Santana gave Boston a 4-0 lead in the first inning, but the Angels, 100-62 during the regular season, clawed back. Los Angeles tied the score in the eighth when Chone Figgins hit a leadoff triple off Justin Masterson the Angels' first extra-base hit of the series after 19 singles and Mark Teixeira hit a one-out sacrifice fly against Jonathan Papelbon (1-0).
Rodriguez (0-1), who set a record with 62 saves in the regular season, allowed a leadoff double to David Ortiz in the ninth. After Kevin Youkilis grounded out, Drew drove a 2-2 pitch over the center field fence.
Rodriguez, who allowed a game-ending home run to Manny Ramirez in Game 2 last year, hung his head, then covered much of his face with his glove.
"He's one of the best pitchers in the league," Ortiz said. "If you get a pitch you like, you better hit it. You might not see it again."
Papelbon retired all six batters he faced, getting help from third baseman Youkilis in the ninth. Youkilis caught pinch-hitter Gary Matthews Jr.'s foul popup with a terrific leaping grab over a camera well for the second out before Papelbon struck out Howie Kendrick to end the game.
Kendrick is hitless in nine at-bats in the two games with five strikeouts, and has stranded 12 baserunners.
"Obviously, you always want to get the job done with guys on base," he said. "It was frustrating to me, knowing I've been up a couple of times and haven't gotten the job done. That's hurt us a little bit, not getting those guys in from scoring position. I just have to figure out what they're doing to me. It's up to me to make the adjustment."
The Angels, who have lost nine consecutive postseason games, stranded 11 runners all in the first seven innings. They are 4-for-21 (.190) with runners in scoring position in the two losses, stranding 20 runners overall.
Hunter hit a two-out RBI single off Daisuke Matsuzaka in the first, but Jacoby Ellsbury doubled in a run in the fourth to make it 5-1.
Figgins singled in a run in the bottom half, and Hunter did the same in the fifth, with the Angels stranding runners at the corners in both innings.
Masterson walked Mike Napoli with the bases loaded in the seventh before striking out Kendrick and Erick Aybar.
Matsuzaka gave up three runs and eight hits in five innings, throwing 108 pitches. Santana allowed five runs and eight hits in 5 1-3 innings.
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