Schilling returns, gives up go-ahead homer to Izturis

The big picture: Schilling has lost three consecutive starts for the first time since dropping four straight in 2000 with Arizona.

Quotable: "Absolutely. That's what keeps me going. That's part of why you play. And the day that's gone, I'll quit." -- Schilling, admitting to being nervous before making his return

Let's go racing: Boston's AL East lead over second-place New York was cut to six games -- the smallest for the Red Sox since July 25.

What a relief: Francisco Rodriguez earned his 28th save in 31 chances this season.

-- ESPN.com news services

Angels 4, Red Sox 2

ANAHEIM, Calif. (ESPN.com news services) -- Curt Schilling didn't make many mistakes in his return from the disabled list Monday night. Two that stood out were his failure to cover first base on a potential double play ball, and a pitch that Maicer Izturis could pull.

Izturis hit a tiebreaking leadoff homer in the seventh inning, helping the Los Angeles Angels beat the Boston Red Sox 4-2 in a matchup of division leaders.

He turned on a 1-1 pitch and drove it into the lower seats in the right-field corner -- his third homer in 187 at-bats this season. Jeff Mathis chased Schilling with a double that snapped an 0-for-18 drought and scored on Chone Figgins' sacrifice fly against Julian Tavarez.

"I could have very easily shut those guys out tonight if I had executed some pitches tonight," Schilling said. "But I didn't do that, they took advantage of it and we lost. While I'm not throwing the ball 95 anymore, I didn't get beat by my fastball tonight. I got beat making some horrible off-speed pitches."

The 20-year veteran admitted to being nervous before making his first start for the Red Sox in seven weeks.

"Absolutely," he said. "That's what keeps me going. That's part of why you play. And the day that's gone, I'll quit."

Schilling (6-5) gave up four runs and nine hits in six-plus innings and struck out five in his first start since June 18 in Atlanta. The right-hander went on the DL the following day with tendinitis in his shoulder. He made three rehab starts with Triple-A Pawtucket, pitching 15 scoreless innings with 18 strikeouts and no walks.

But the six-time All-Star has lost three consecutive starts on a big league mound for the first time since dropping four straight in 2000 with Arizona.

"I haven't been consistent for a long time, and there's more than one reason for that," Schilling said. "As long as the physical questions are answered -- and I have no reason to believe they're not -- it's a matter of making adjustments. I have not consistently done that, and the numbers reflect that."

Justin Speier (1-2) pitched a scoreless seventh for his first victory with Los Angeles. Scott Shields struck out Coco Crisp looking with two on in the eighth, and Francisco Rodriguez got three outs for his 28th save in 31 chances, striking out Brandon Moss with two on to end the game.

Moss made his major league debut, entering when Manny Ramirez was ejected by plate umpire James Hoye in the fourth for arguing a checked-swing third strike. It was the first ejection this season for Ramirez.

While the Angels' boosted their AL West lead to four games over second-place Seattle, Boston's AL East margin over the second-place Yankees was cut to six games -- the smallest since July 25. They led by 12 games on July 5 and are 15-13 since then.

"There's no concern," Schilling said. "It's still on us. We have absolutely total control of our situation."

Angels starter Jered Weaver, winless in three career starts against Boston, allowed two runs and six hits in six innings.

"I thought he did a great job changing speeds. He got a couple of big outs with off-speed pitches when they had guys in scoring position, which is a good sign for Jered," manager Mike Scioscia said. "Those guys make you throw a lot of pitches, and Jered's pitch count got up there. He needed everything he had to get through six innings."

Boston's Kevin Youkilis was struck on the left side of his head by a one-hop throw from Mathis while stealing second base in the first inning. His next time up, he homered into the left-field bullpen after a two-out walk to Dustin Pedroia.

Casey Kotchman's two-run single tied it during an eventful fourth inning for Schilling, who nearly injured his pitching hand while getting a piece of Vladimir Guerrero's bouncing single over the mound.

Schilling took two warmup throws to shake off the residual numbness, and Garret Anderson followed with a fielder's choice grounder to Youkilis at first that could have been a double play had Schilling been quicker in covering the base. But shortstop Julio Lugo had to hold the ball, and Schilling slapped his thigh in disgust after realizing his mistake.

"What you don't want to do is have two guys standing at or near the bag and confuse the shortstop. But I should have just kept going," Schilling said.

"I thought Yuke was going to throw and go back to cover the bag himself, but you should never assume that. If we turn the double play, that changes everything about that inning. I let them turn it into a two-run inning, and that's frustrating."

Gary Matthews Jr. then doubled, and Kotchman drove in both runners with a single through the box. Matthews was 4-for-26 against Schilling before that hit.

Game notes
Moss was promoted from Triple-A Pawtucket to replace 1B Eric Hinske, who was placed on the bereavement list so that he could be with his wife Kathryn during her complicated pregnancy. ... The sellout crowd of 44,142 included the entire roster and coaching staff of the Lancaster JetHawks, Boston's Class-A affiliate in the California League. Manager Chad Epperson and his players had an off day between a series at Lake Elsinore and one at home against Modesto.

Information from The Associated Press was used in this report.