ANAHEIM, Calif. (AP) -- Considering how well they're playing, the Los Angeles Angels would love to start the postseason right now.
But that's not the way it works, so they're doing their best to stay in the moment.Casey Kotchman hit a two-run double to cap a three-run rally in the eighth inning, Francisco Rodriguez became the fastest pitcher to 40 saves in big league history, and the Angels beat the Boston Red Sox 5-3 Sunday for their fifth straight victory.
Francisco Rodriguez has closed deal after deal for the Angels this season. K-Rod became the fastest closer ever to 40 saves, doing so in just 98 games. That beats John Smoltz's mark of 108 contests, which was set in 2003.
Fastest To 40 Saves
With another late comeback, the Angels completed their first three-game sweep of Boston in seven years. They scored four runs in the seventh Saturday for a 4-2 win."We've got a long road ahead of us," manager Mike Scioscia said. "We played well this weekend, [but] I don't see any carry-over. The season's more than this weekend. We have to keep going."Vladimir Guerrero and Torii Hunter homered on consecutive pitches for the Angels, who became the first team in the majors to reach 60 wins. The victory was their fifth in six meetings with Boston, enabling them to clinch their first season series against the Red Sox since 2001.The AL West leaders, 39-18 against teams with winning records, are a season-high 22 games over .500 and lead second-place Oakland by nine games. None of the other five division leaders has more than a two-game cushion."It feels good, but there's a lot of baseball left," said Howie Kendrick, who doubled home the tying run. "Anytime you beat these guys, it's a big deal. We're just happy to come out with a couple wins and keep rolling."The Red Sox held a 3-2 lead and knuckleballer Tim Wakefield (6-7) had retired 17 of 19 batters before Juan Rivera and Kendrick hit back-to-back doubles to start the eighth and tie the score.Manny Delcarmen relieved and Jeff Mathis sacrificed Kendrick to third before Chone Figgins drew a walk. Kotchman followed by lining a 1-1 off-speed pitch into the right-field corner to drive in Kendrick and Figgins."I was just trying to see the ball and hit it, hope it finds a hole, and it did," Kotchman said. "I'm trying not to hit into a double play, I'm aware of that. I was just trying not to hit it on the ground."Darren Oliver (3-1) fanned three in 1 1/3 hitless innings to earn the victory, and Rodriguez struck out the side in the ninth for his major league-leading 40th save in 43 chances. He reached 40 saves in 98 games -- 10 faster than John Smoltz did so five years ago."To get to 40 at this time is unbelievable," Rodriguez said. "Last year, I got to 40 in the last game of the season."The Angels hadn't swept a three-game series from Boston since 2001, and hadn't done it at home in 10 years. They've also lost nine straight playoff games to the Red Sox, including first-round sweeps in 2004 and last year."The reason we didn't have success against them in the past is we didn't get the clutch hit," Rodriguez said. "This series, everything came around pretty good."Sean Casey was one of Rodriguez's strikeout victims in the ninth, fanning as a pinch hitter."The guy's one of the best in the game," Casey said. "He's got four above-average pitches and he throws everything for strikes, so he's a good weapon for those guys. His curveball's tight, his slider's tight, and he's got a good changeup and a good fastball."The Red Sox lost for the 10th time in 12 road games and remained 1 1/2 games behind AL East-leading Tampa Bay."We had a lead and didn't hold it," manager Terry Francona said. "Those are the types of games you've got to win."The Angels took a 2-0 lead in the second on homers by Guerrero and Hunter. They also went deep on back-to-back pitches July 7 against Texas' Luis Mendoza in the second inning of a 9-6 win.The Red Sox tied it in the third on a two-out RBI double by Manny Ramirez and a run-scoring single by Mike Lowell.Angels starter Jon Garland retired 10 of 11 batters before Coco Crisp drew a one-out walk in the seventh. Crisp stole second as Kevin Cash struck out and scored when Guerrero dropped Jacoby Ellsbury's liner to right for an error.Wakefield allowed six hits and four runs with no walks in seven-plus innings."Early on he left two pitches up to Vlad and Torii Hunter and they hit them a long way," Francona said. "Other than that, he was tremendous -- just like he's been every time out. We sent him back out in the eighth, then there's two quick hits and all of a sudden the game's completely turned around."Garland gave up six hits and three runs, two earned, in 6 2/3 innings. The Red Sox had only one hit after Lowell's RBI single.
The Red Sox placed RHP David Aardsma on the 15-day disabled list because of a strained right groin and recalled RHP Justin Masterson from Triple-A Pawtucket to replace him in the bullpen. ... Scioscia said the team was discussing its options for OF Gary Matthews Jr., who has a small tear in the patella tendon of his left knee.