"That's a really tough pitch to hit, that fastball that sinks away from you -- especially when you try to do too much and pull it," Izturis said. "He pitched good -- a lot of strikes. [He threw] a lot of first-pitch strikes."Form held when the power-laden Red Sox got homers from Youkilis and Big Papi to seize an early lead for Beckett, whose variety and precision of pitches were tying up and dispatching uncomfortable Angels hitters. The Angels let a first-inning opportunity slip away, stranding Figgins at third base after he skillfully worked the count and slashed a single past second baseman Dustin Pedroia. "I was stealing second and third," Figgins said, both efforts resulting in groundouts by Orlando Cabrera and Guerrero before Anderson struck out to end the threat. Beckett's run of 19 consecutive outs was the third longest in postseason history. The Angels wouldn't have another baserunner after Figgins in the first until Guerrero singled with one out in the seventh. Figgins' frustration continued when he lined into outs in the sixth and ninth innings. "In the ninth, with the big guys coming up and down four, we were still in it," said Figgins, having watched defensive replacement Jacoby Ellsbury stab his liner. "They made some plays, and it didn't work out. The guy [Beckett] made pitches when he had to, so you've got to tip your cap and move on." Lackey also came out throwing heat, but Youkilis sent his sixth consecutive first-inning fastball over the wall in left-center. The homer was his first postseason hit in his third at-bat. Following singles by Ortiz and Manny Ramirez, men more familiar with October baseball, Lackey retired Mike Lowell and J.D. Drew to keep the deficit at one.
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As Beckett settled into a groove, his 95-98 mph fastball tying up and erasing Angels hitters, the Red Sox struck again in the third. Two curveballs, two runs. Youkilis doubled to left, and Ortiz lifted his ninth career postseason homer into the right-field corner, tying Jason Varitek for the franchise record.A full-count walk to Ramirez and a wild pitch led to another run when Lowell punched a full-count single to center. Hoping to change his luck after losing his two starts against Boston this season, surrendering 20 hits and nine earned runs in 9 2/3 innings, Lackey found Red Sox hitters as patiently uncompromising as ever. "Honestly, I really think I pitched better than the numbers are going to show," Lackey said. "I really only take back missed location in the first inning on the homer and then missed with Ortiz. Other than that, I'm not that disappointed with it. "[My] margin of error wasn't real high." Beckett, of course, was the reason for that. His 51 wins over the past three seasons are the most in the Majors. Lackey is tied for sixth with 46. The MVP of the Marlins' 2003 World Series conquest of the Yankees, Beckett is a deceiving 3-2 in postseason play. In 51 2/3 innings, he has given up just 25 hits and 12 walks while striking out 55. His ERA: 1.74. Lackey is now 4-2 in nine postseason games, seven as a starter. His ERA is 3.63. The Angels will give the ball to co-ace Kelvim Escobar on Friday night, asking him to take the measure of the Red Sox, while Daisuke Matsuzaka, hopefully, is more accommodating than Beckett.
Lyle Spencer is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.