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Red Sox 4, Angels 3: Bending but not breaking

The Red Sox gave the Angels a lot of chances, but got the big outs when they needed them.

MLB: SEP 01 Red Sox at Angels Photo by John Cordes/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

The Red Sox had a laborious weekend in Los Angeles, with their bullpen being worked to the bone in each of the three games. There was some hope they could get length from their starter on Sunday with David Price coming back from the IL, but it turns out he wasn’t quite ready for a normal workload. He didn’t allow a run but only made it through two innings, leaving seven for the bullpen to cover. The good news is, with rosters expanding there were reinforcements on hand. The Red Sox pitchers were far from perfect throughout this game, but they came through in big spots and limited the Angels to three runs. The Red Sox offense, meanwhile, had another game where they quieted way down in the late innings, but back-to-back homers from Xander Bogaerts and J.D. Martinez in the third proved to be the difference as Boston escaped L.A. with a series victory.

The Red Sox have had a good trip out west, all things considered, but heading into the final game of this swing on the left coast they were not only coming off a stinger of a loss but also feeling a whole lot of fatigue on the pitching staff. The good news, however, is that they had reinforcements on the way. Sunday was the first day with expanded rosters, and they called up Jhoulys Chacín, Travis Lakins, Hector Velázquez and Ryan Weber. Oh, and also a guy named David Price, who was on the mound for his first start since getting shelled in the Bronx about a month ago.

The veteran lefty was in a bit of a strange spot coming back from the IL without a rehab start under his belt. The Red Sox were going to take it easy, and as it turns out the extra reinforcements were huge because it was yet another short outing for their starter in this game. Thankfully, that did not mean it was an unproductive one from Price. He certainly wasn’t as sharp as he could have been and the Angels made him work, but over his two innings of work the southpaw did the job.

In the bottom half of the first, he got two outs in his first two batters, but it did take 13 pitches. Brian Goodwin then smacked a double to give the Angels a scoring threat with Albert Pujols at the plate, but Price stranded the runner in scoring position. Price came back out in the second and issued a one-out walk to Kole Calhoun, who would then steal second base to make it two straight innings with a runner in scoring position for L.A. Once again, though, Price escaped the damage to end his short day. It was only two baserunners in as many innings, but the Angels worked him for 45 pitches in those two innings and Cora didn’t want to push his veteran with all of the fresh arms at his disposal and the big month that lies ahead for Price and the Red Sox.

MLB: SEP 01 Red Sox at Angels Photo by John Cordes/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

On the other side, the Red Sox were going up against their third straight left-handed starter for the Angels and were looking for yet another hot start. Mookie Betts has been fantastic of late leading off games, and he kept that run going with a leadoff base hit. He led off all three games in this series with a hit. He would then move two bases up on a pair of wild pitches, allowing Xander Bogaerts to bring him home on a base hit of his own. Boston would get another baserunner in the frame on a walk, but Sam Travis grounded into a double play and the Red Sox settled for the one run in the opening frame.

After they settled for just a single in the top of the second, Boston came back for more in the third. This time, they brought the power that they’ve been flashing so often over the last couple of weeks. Rafael Devers got things started with a base hit, bringing Bogaerts back up to the plate. The shortstop got a changeup that stayed a little to high up in the zone and he blasted it out to center field for a two-run shot, making it 3-0 Red Sox. Martinez then came up and decided he wanted in on the action as well, smashing one out to left field for back-to-back dingers. Heading into the bottom of the third, the Red Sox had themselves a 4-0 lead.

With Price now out of the game at this point, the newly called up Lakins got the ball for the bottom of the third. It looked like he’d cruise through the inning, but gave up three straight two-out hits including an RBI double from Pujols, cutting the lead down to three. Justin Upton had a chance to cut further into the lead or even tie the game with runners on second and third, but Lakins escaped with just the one run coming across.

It would be a similar story for the righty in the fourth, this time starting things off with a walk to Calhoun. The Angels right fielder then got over to third on a one-out single before coming in to score on a sacrifice fly. After another base hit, Mike Trout had a big chance with runners on the corners and two outs in a two-run game, but Lakins once again got out of the jam with just one run coming across, and it was 4-2 after four.

MLB: SEP 01 Red Sox at Angels Photo by John Cordes/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

Weber came on for the fifth, and he looked better than Lakins. The righty, another guy just called up prior to this game, had an easy 1-2-3 inning there. He’d then come back for the sixth with the score still the same, and after a couple of quick outs to start that inning he gave up a double to Luis Rengifo. That brought up Shohei Ohtani as a pinch hitter, who drew a walk to put two on with two out for David Fletcher. It was another escape act for a Red Sox pitcher, though, as Fletcher flew out and Weber preserved the two-run lead.

Hector Velázquez would get the call for the seventh, and he got off to a rough start walking Trout. He then fell behind 3-0 to Goodwin, but after throwing a strike he got very lucky. Goodwin smoked a line drive but it was right at Travis at first base, who doubled up Trout. Velázquez would somehow only face three in the scoreless inning.

For the eighth, it was Matt Barnes getting the call. He did get off to the start he was looking for, leaving a curveball up over the heart of the plate to Upton. The Angels outfielder put a charge into it, sending it way out to center field for a solo shot to bring L.A. to within one. Fortunately, he followed that up with three straight outs to keep the lead at one.

After the offense went down in order in the top of the ninth, Brandon Workman came on to try and lock down the save. He got off to a good start, striking out the first batter he faced before getting a pop out for the second out. Workman would then hit Trout, though, putting the tying run on base for Goodwin. The Red Sox got another big out, though, with Goodwin flying out to center field to strand the runner and end the game.

It’s September which means it’s playoff update time! The Rays did win today but the A’s and Indians both lost (the latter were playing Tampa Bay) so the Red Sox did pick up a little ground in the wildcard race. They leave the west coast five games out of the playoff spot.

The Red Sox will have a day off on Monday as they head back east and return to Fenway. They’ll kick off a three-game series against the Twins on Tuesday with Rick Porcello taking the mound. Minnesota has not yet announced their starter. First pitch is scheduled for 7:10 PM ET.