Floodgates open in ninth after Angels pull off squeeze playPosted: Sunday August 25, 2002 4:45 PM
Updated: Tuesday August 27, 2002 2:06 AM
BOSTON (AP) -- Chone Figgins rushed to contribute to Anaheim's playoff bid.
Making his major league debut as a pinch-runner, he sped from first to third on a single, then scored the tiebreaking run on a squeeze bunt in a five-run ninth inning as the Angels beat the Boston Red Sox 8-3 Sunday.
"It's hard to do it if you don't have someone to put down the squeeze," Figgins said.
Fortunately for the Angels, they had David Eckstein. His bunt to pitcher Derek Lowe was good enough for Figgins, running on the pitch, to slide in before the tag even though the Red Sox expected the play.
"He showed real late and he got a tough pitch to bunt," Boston catcher Jason Varitek said.
Eckstein, released by Boston in 2000, said, "It wasn't the best bunt. It went right back to Lowe. It's a spark to have a guy like Figgins come off your bench."
The win left Anaheim two percentage points ahead of Seattle in the AL wild-card race, while Boston dropped 3 1/2 games back.
Figgins led the Pacific Coast League in triples, runs and stolen bases when he was promoted Thursday from Salt Lake City to take the roster spot of Tim Salmon, who went on the disabled list.
Figgins pinch-ran after Scott Spiezio led off the ninth with a single. Adam Kennedy struck out before Figgins dove into third on a single by Shawn Wooten, another pinch-hitter. Left fielder Cliff Floyd's throw was late.
"I know he can fly," Floyd said. "That's about all I know about him."
That set up the risky bunt in which Eckstein had to make contact with Figgins charging in from third. Boston manager Grady Little considered pitching out but said, "we didn't feel like they would do it on the first pitch."
Angels manager Mike Scioscia didn't waste time with Figgins on third.
"He brings a dimension off our bench right now that is important, especially as you get into some ballgames down the stretch," Scioscia said. "You have to have the right guys at the plate, the right guys on base and the right guy on the mound."
Lowe gave up a season high six runs and 13 hits. For Anaheim, Scott Schoeneweiss (9-7) pitched the last two innings, retiring all six batters.
Boston center fielder Johnny Damon broke Ken Griffey's AL record of 576 straight errorless chances when he caught Garret Anderson's fly ball in the eighth. Griffey set the record from 1992-93 with Seattle. Damon has played 245 games since his last error on May 3, 2001, against Toronto when he was with Oakland.
The score was 3-all through five innings as each team scored a run in the first, second and fifth.
Anaheim took a 1-0 lead on a double by Eckstein, who moved to third on a groundout and scored on Orlando Palmeiro's sacrifice fly. Boston tied it on Shea Hillenbrand's bases-loaded single off Mickey Callaway before Brian Daubach hit into a bases-loaded double play.
"We could have taken advantage of a rookie starter out there in his first start of the season up here and we didn't," Little said.
Eckstein also scored in the fifth when he singled, stole second, took third on a groundout and came in on Palmeiro's single.
"We're always putting on pressure on the bases," Ochoa said. "We do the little things and play hard."
The Red Sox tied it with an unearned run when Sanchez, leading off the fifth, reached first on second baseman Kennedy's throwing error. Sanchez moved to third on Nomar Garciaparra's double and scored on Manny Ramirez's groundout.
Notes: The most hits Lowe gave up in any of his previous 25 starts
this season was eight in three different games. ... Anaheim had
four doubles in the first four innings after starting the game
ranked second in the majors, behind Minnesota, with 266 doubles.
... Anderson's hitting streak ended at seven games when he went
0-for-5. ... Daubach failed to homer for his 17th straight game
after hitting four in six games. ... Ramirez reached base for the
22nd game in a row when he singled in the first.