THE ASSOCIATED PRESS
BOSTON — Howie Kendrick homered and added an RBI blooper to break a ninth-inning tie, and Brian Fuentes protected the lead as the Los Angeles Angels beat the Boston Red Sox 4-3 on Thursday night.
One night after Fuentes presided over a collapse with two outs in the ninth, he helped the Angels snap the Red Sox’s seven-game winning streak and hand them their first loss at Fenway in 11 games. Kevin Jepsen (6-3) got four outs, then Fuentes got the last two batters to earn his 42nd save and end Los Angeles’ three-game losing streak.
Billy Wagner (1-1) walked Juan Rivera to lead off the ninth, then pinch-hitter Reggie Willits sacrifice bunted him to second. Kendrick blooped his third hit of the night over the second baseman’s head to make it 4-3 and help the Angels avoid a September sweep by their likely first-round playoff opponent.
Los Angeles improved to 6 1/2 games ahead of Texas in the AL West; the Red Sox hold a six-game lead over the idle Rangers in the wild-card race. If the standings hold, Boston will open the playoffs in Anaheim.
One game after Los Angeles complained about two questionable pitch calls that contributed to Boston’s two-out comeback rally in the ninth, starter Ervin Santana coughed up a 1-0 lead when he gave up Jacoby Ellsbury’s homer to lead off the fourth and then a two-run shot to Jason Bay three batters later.
The Angels cut it to 3-2 on back-to-back doubles by Jeff Mathis and Chone Figgins in the fifth, then tied it in the seventh when Kendrick singled, Maicer Izturis bounced one over the Los Angeles bullpen wall for a double and then Josh Beckett bounced a third strike between catcher Jason Varitek’s legs, allowing the run to score.
NOTES: Beckett was facing the Angels for the first time since drawing a five-game suspension for throwing at Bobby Abreu’s head on April 12 and sparking a bench-clearing skirmish. Beckett went over the 200 inning plateau for the third time in his career. … Red Sox manager Terry Francona said RHP Tim Wakefield will throw a side session on Friday and, if all goes well, start on Monday against the Kansas City Royals. The first-time all-star, who has a bad back, will not be in the rotation but will be available for spot starts. … 1B Victor Martinez was back in the lineup after returning from Cleveland, where he was tending to personal matters. … Santana hasn’t beaten Boston in five starts since 2005, including playoffs. … Kevin Youkilis was out of the lineup for the third straight game.