BOSTON Another series-opening loss and the Boston Red Sox continued their tumble out of the AL’s wild-card chase.
Dropping a series opener for the eighth time in 10 tries, the Red Sox lost their fifth in seven games with a 5-3 setback against the Los Angeles Angels on Tuesday night.
“Play better collectively as a group. We’re just not playing together,” right fielder Cody Ross said. “It seems like we get chances, opportunities, have pitchers on the ropes and try to do too much.”
One day after shutting down Carl Crawford for the season with a ligament injury in his left elbow, manager Bobby Valentine tried a lineup shuffle to attempt to spark his fading team, moving Jacoby Ellsbury from the leadoff spot to third.
Ellsbury went 1 for 4 with a single, flying to fairly deep right-center in his final at-bat.
“We had a pretty set thing going through five (in the order) – without Carl we have to make an adjustment now,” Valentine said.
Boston has also been without designated hitter David Ortiz, who has been sidelined since July 18 with a strained right Achilles.
“You’re talking about two big pieces on this team,” Ross said. “But at the same time, every team has superstars that get hurt throughout the year. We have to pick those guys up and we’re not doing it.”
Mark Trumbo hit his career-high 30th homer, Ervin Santana pitched 6 1-3 solid innings and the Angels – the team directly in front of Boston in the wild-card standings – snapped a four-game losing streak.
Boston’s Aaron Cook (3-7) was touched for five runs on 11 hits – nine singles – in five innings and fell to 1-6 in his last eight starts.
“I felt pretty good. I felt like I was making pitches. They just were finding holes with those singles,” he said. “Trumbo just hit a ball about as hard as you can hit one.”
Boston did have one bright spot: three relievers combined for four hitless innings – still not enough to avoid another loss.
Mike Trout had two hits, giving him 139 in the first 100 games of his rookie season, the most since 1964 when Tony Oliva had 144 for Minnesota. But his streak of 30 successful stolen base attempts ended in the eighth when Jarrod Saltalamacchia threw him out at second base on a pitchout.
The Angels began the day four games behind Baltimore for the second wild-card berth in the AL. After three games in Boston, they have three in Detroit, which started play one spot ahead of them in the wild-card race, 1 1/2 games behind the Orioles.
Los Angeles’ playoff hopes took a beating when it ended a 10-game homestand by being swept in four games by the Tampa Bay Rays, who lead the wild-card race. But Santana’s performance was a rare strong outing for the Angels’ starters, who entered the game with a 6.76 ERA in August
Santana (7-10) allowed two runs on five hits with four strikeouts and two walks, leaving after throwing 100 pitches. He is 3-0 in his last four starts and gave up three runs or less for the fourth time in five starts.
Ernesto Frieri pitched the ninth for his 15th save in 16 opportunities.
The Angels took a 1-0 lead in the third on an RBI single by Albert Pujols that drove in Trout, who had singled and moved to second on Cook’s wild pickoff attempt. It was Trout’s 97th run, breaking a tie with Joe Jackson of the Cleveland Indians for second-most runs in the first 100 games of a career since 1900. Jackson did it in 1911. Joe DiMaggio’s 100 runs in 1936 are the most.
Los Angeles added two runs on five singles in the fourth. Howie Kendrick and Alberto Callaspo got the first two hits. Erick Aybar then singled, scoring Kendrick and sending Callaspo to third. But Aybar was caught in a rundown and tagged between first and second. Chris Iannetta then singled in Callaspo.
The Angels made it 5-0 in the fifth on a single by Kendrys Morales and Trumbo’s 30th homer, surpassing his personal best set last year.
The Red Sox managed just four hits in the first five innings then cut the lead to 5-2 in the sixth on Saltalamacchia’s 21st homer of the year following a walk to Ross. Boston scored its final run in the seventh when Scott Podsednik doubled, took third on a groundout and came home on a wild pitch by Jordan Walden.