Red Sox advance to ALCS after three-game sweep of Angels

" Hero: In his first postseason game since the "bloody sock" World Series game in 2004, Curt Schilling struck out four and allowed six hits in seven innings to raise his postseason record to 9-2 while lowering his ERA to 1.93.

" Finishing touch: With back-to-back homers from David Ortiz and Manny Ramirez serving as the offensive support for the Red Sox, Boston broke open the game in the eighth by scoring seven runs.

" Figure this: The Angels have lost nine straight playoff games to the Red Sox and seven straight postseason games overall.

" Next episode: The Red Sox open the ALCS at Fenway Park on Friday night against either the Indians or Yankees.

" Quotable: "This series wasn't lost on injuries, it's part of any season, guys are going to get hurt. ...Those guys went out there and beat us, and that's the bottom line." -- Angels manager Mike Scioscia

-- ESPN.com news services

Red Sox 9, Angels 1

ANAHEIM, Calif. (AP) -- Brilliant as ever in the postseason, Curt Schilling helped give the Boston Red Sox some time off.

The way they're playing, maybe that's the last thing they need.

Schilling worked seven masterful innings, David Ortiz and Manny Ramirez homered, and the Red Sox routed the Los Angeles Angels 9-1
Sunday to complete a three-game sweep of their first-round AL
playoff series.

The Red Sox open the AL Championship Series at Fenway Park on
Friday night against either the Cleveland Indians or New York Yankees. New York won 8-4 Sunday night, and trails that series 2-1.

Schilling isn't the power pitcher he once was, but he handled
the Angels with relative ease. Even when the Angels loaded the
bases early, he escaped.

"His style has changed, but the results in the postseason
remain the same. That's a real tribute to him," Red Sox general
manager Theo Epstein said. "That's what makes him special."

Schilling raised his postseason record to 9-2 in 16 career
starts while lowering his ERA to 1.93, having allowed only 25
earned runs in 116 1/3 innings.

"This is not a solo thing. You've got to have a team to make it
work. That performance today was as much about John Farrell and
Jason Varitek as it was about anything, as far as I'm concerned,
and as far as my results," Schilling said, referring to Boston's
pitching coach and catcher, respectively.

"It's been an incredibly arduous and long road and a process
that's had its peaks and valleys, but John has stuck with me and
worked as hard as I've ever had a pitching coach work to get me to
where I need to be," Schilling said. "And Jason was flawless

The Red Sox joined the Arizona Diamondbacks and
Colorado Rockies
in sweeping a first-round series this October -- this is the first
time since the current format began in 1995 that it's happened.

Vladimir Guerrero and his Los Angeles teammates hit .192 as a
team and scored a mere four runs in three games.

"Pitching is everything, and our guys were pitching," Ramirez
said. "In the playoffs, you got to have pitching. Schilling's the
man. He's got a lot of spirit, he knows what he's doing out there
and he came through for us today."

The Angels have lost nine straight playoff games to the Red Sox
and seven straight postseason games overall.

Boston beat the Angels in the last three games of the 1986 ALCS
and swept them in the first round of the 2004 playoffs.

Schilling was working in the postseason for the first time since
the 2004 World Series, when his bloody sock became the stuff of
baseball lore.

The 40-year-old righty had been hampered by an injured ankle in
the AL Championship Series against the Yankees that year.
Team doctors stitched a tendon in his right ankle to keep it from
flopping around, and he returned to lead the Red Sox to a Game 6
win that tied the series. The Red Sox went on to win Game 7, then
the World Series against St. Louis for their first title since

He wasn't used in the 2005 playoffs, and Boston didn't make the
postseason last year.

"I thought Schill was outstanding," Red Sox manager Terry
Francona said. "He especially commanded his fastball on both sides
of the plate -- in and out, up and down. He really pitched."

Pitching for the first time in 12 days, Schilling scattered six
hits while walking one, striking out four and throwing 100 pitches
-- 76 for strikes.

He was at his best in his final inning of work.

With the Red Sox leading just 2-0, Maicer Izturis doubled to
start the Los Angeles seventh, but Howie Kendrick grounded to
second, Juan Rivera popped to first and Mike Napoli struck out to
end the inning.

The Angels broke the shutout in the ninth against Eric Gagne.
Izturis doubled and later scored on Kendrick's sacrifice fly.

Los Angeles had a big league-best 54-27 record at home this
season, hitting .305 at Angel Stadium, but it did them no good
against Schilling.

"We swung the bats, hit balls at people and their pitching did
a great job of keeping us off-balance," Kendrick said. "When
you're down in the count, it's always tougher to hit."

The Angels lost cleanup hitter Garret Anderson early in Sunday's
game because of continued problems with conjunctivitis in his right
eye. They were already without center fielder Gary Matthews Jr.,
left off the division series roster after missing 14 games in
September with a sprained left ankle and an irritated right knee.

"This series wasn't lost on injuries, it's part of any season,
guys are going to get hurt," Angels manager Mike Scioscia said.
"We got hit by some of ours at the wrong time. That's baseball.
You're not going to look back and make excuses. Those guys went out
there and beat us, and that's the bottom line."

Ortiz and Ramirez put the Red Sox ahead to stay by hitting
consecutive home runs against Jered Weaver to begin the fourth.

Ortiz hit Weaver's second pitch of the inning over the
right-field fence for his franchise-record 10th postseason homer.
Ramirez followed by driving a full-count pitch over the center
field for his 22nd in the postseason, tying former Yankees star
Bernie Williams for the all-time record.

Just as he did Friday night in Boston, when his game-ending
homer gave the Red Sox a 6-3 victory, Ramirez thrust both fists
into the air and posed near the plate as his hit sailed out of the
ballpark. This time, the display was abbreviated.

The back-to-back homers were the first of the season for the Red
Sox stars.

The AL East champs broke open the game in the eighth by scoring
seven runs against relievers Scot Shields, Justin Speier and
Darren Oliver.

Dustin Pedroia, Mike Lowell and Varitek hit RBI doubles,
Kevin Youkilis had a sacrifice fly, J.D. Drew drove in a run with a
grounder and Coco Crisp hit a two-run single.

Weaver, a 25-year-old right-hander who grew up in Southern
California and was making his postseason debut, pitched out of a
second-and-third, no-out jam in the second, retiring Drew on a
dribbler to the mound and striking out Varitek and Crisp.

Anderson, who had 65 RBIs after the All-Star break, was removed
the following inning and replaced by Reggie Willits. The move came
after Anderson reacted slowly to Lowell's double in the second.

"Garret did not see the ball in the outfield today," Scioscia
said. "You can't take a chance like that if you're not seeing the
ball as clearly as you need to. Up until now, he had been fine with

The Angels felt the absence of Anderson immediately, because
Willits batted with the bases loaded and two outs in the third and
popped out to the catcher.

Game notes
The Red Sox took a 2-0 lead in five previous postseason
series, and won Game 3 each time. They won the first two games of
the 1986 World Series over the New York Mets, but wound up losing
in seven games. ... Angels 1B Casey Kotchman didn't play because of
what Scioscia called a non-baseball-related medical condition.
"That's all we can say," team spokesman Larry Babcock said. ...
Ortiz drew two walks Sunday, giving him seven in the series.