BOSTON (Reuters) - The Boston Red Sox beat the Los Angeles Angels 3-2 on Monday at Fenway Park to advance to the American League Championship Series for the fourth time in six years.
Boston shortstop Jed Lowrie had the game-winning single in the bottom of the ninth, helping the defending World Series champions seal the best-of-five AL Division Series 3-1.
“This team has had a tremendous amount of adversity, day in and day out,” Red Sox catcher Jason Varitek told reporters. “You develop character that way.”
Boston will meet AL East rival Tampa Bay in the ALCS after the Rays earlier scored a 6-2 victory over the Chicago White Sox to wrap up their series 3-1.
“I can’t wait to get it going,” starting pitcher Josh Beckett said. “But we have a couple days to enjoy this.”
Left fielder Jason Bay sparked things for the Red Sox in the ninth with a ground-rule double, before eventually scoring the winner on Lowrie’s two-out hit.
Bay finished the game 2-for-3 with two doubles, and recorded seven hits and two home runs for the series.
“It’s been a blast every step of the way,” Bay said. “I’m looking forward to moving on.”
The Red Sox went up 2-0 against starter John Lackey in the fifth inning, while Boston pitcher Jon Lester kept the Angels scoreless through seven.
But the Red Sox surrendered the tying runs in the eighth inning, LA’s Torii Hunter knocking in a two-run single to make it 2-2.
Los Angeles had the go-ahead run at third base with just one out in the ninth, but a squeeze play failed and runner Reggie Willits was run down by Varitek.
“One minute we’re back in the game on Torii’s hit; then the squeeze doesn’t work,” said Angels third baseman Chone Figgins. “It all happened so fast.”
Manny Delcarmen recorded the victory for the Red Sox after pitching in the ninth, and left-hander Lester took the no-decision, allowing four hits and striking out four.
Lackey allowed two runs and seven hits in seven innings of work.
The Angels, who won 100 games during the regular season, continued their postseason struggles against Boston.
Los Angeles snapped an 11-game playoff losing streak to the Red Sox on Sunday, but have now been eliminated from the postseason by the Red Sox in two consecutive years.
“This is totally different from (last year),” Lackey said. “They were better than us last year. They’re not better than us this year.”
Prior to the game, Red Sox third baseman Mike Lowell was taken off the playoff roster due to a nagging hip injury, meaning the 34-year-old veteran would only be eligible to play again if Boston makes the World Series.
Reporting by Jahmal Corner; Editing by N.Ananthanarayanan