The Boston Red Sox extended their playoff domination of the Los Angeles Angels with a 4-1 win on Wednesday in the opening game of their American League division series.
The Angels may have been the AL’s dominant team in the regular season, but the defending World Series champions yet again showed it’s a different game in October.
Left fielder Jason Bay hit the go-ahead, two-run homer in the sixth inning to put Boston in front to stay.
Bay brought Boston back from a 1-0 deficit in the first postseason game of his career, and the Red Sox got a big start from pitcher John Lester, who allowed only one unearned run in seven innings.
Los Angeles won eight of nine regular-season games between the teams this year, outscoring the Red Sox 42-17 in the final six. But the Red Sox have won 10 straight postseason games against the Angels dating to 1986, including first-round sweeps in 2004 and last year en route to World Series titles.
The Angels will try to draw even tonight in the best-of-five series, with Ervin Santana pitching against Boston’s Daisuke Matsuzaka.
Los Angeles went ahead in the third with an unearned run. With two outs, rookie Boston shortstop Jed Lowrie muffed a groundball that allowed Vladimir Guerrero on base. Torii Hunter then hit a lineball to left field that scored Guerrero.
It was a rare error by Lowrie, making his postseason debut.
Boston went in front when Bay hit a homer over the left-field fence with a man aboard. He flipped his bat as he began his home run trot upon leaving the batter’s box, long before the ball landed in the seats beyond the double-decker bullpen.
Bay looked bad in striking out in his first two at-bats, but after the homer, he doubled in the eighth.
Lester got the Game 1 assignment after Josh Beckett was pushed back to Game 3 because of injury. He retired his final seven batters, striking out four of them.
The Angels, who wrapped up the AL West title with two-and-a-half weeks left in the regular season, finished with a franchise-best 100-62 record that was tops in the majors. But they lost for the eighth time in 10 postseason home games since winning the 2002 World Series.
The Philadelphia Phillies beat the Milwaukee Brewers 3-1 in their National League first-round playoff opener on Wednesday for their first postseason victory in 15 years.
Cole Hamels pitched eight brilliant innings, Brad Lidge escaped a ninth-inning jam and Philadelphia took advantage of Mike Cameron’s miscue in center field to earn its first postseason win since 1993.
Chase Utley’s two-run double slipped out of Cameron’s glove in the third inning, sending Philadelphia to a 3-0 lead. Lidge allowed a run in the ninth but struck out Corey Hart with runners on second and third to end it.
Hamel retired the first 14 batters and allowed two hits, striking out nine.
Lidge pitched out of trouble. The Brewers had the tying run at the plate when Prince Fielder fanned for the second out. After J.J. Hardy walked to put two runners on, the runners advanced on a wild pitch. But Hart struck out swinging to end it.
DODGERS 7, CUBS 2
James Loney hit a go-ahead grand slam off Ryan Dempster and Manny Ramirez and Russell Martin homered as Los Angeles beat Chicago in their playoff opener.
The Cubs entered the postseason with the best record in MLB, hoping for a fast start.