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K-Rod wasn't about to back down

K-Rod wasn't about to back down

BOSTON -- Angels reliever Scot Shields called the decision between pitching to David Ortiz or Manny Ramirez a pick-your-poison proposition, and with two out and nobody on base in the seventh inning of Game 2 of the American League Division Series at Fenway Park on Friday, he picked neither.

Shields, who lost his role as the Halos' primary setup man late in the season, walked both Red Sox sluggers before getting Mike Lowell to fly out to center to wrap up a hitless two-inning stint of shutout work.

With two out and a runner at second in the bottom of the ninth, Angels manager Mike Scioscia picked Francisco Rodriguez's poison for him, ordering his right-handed closer to intentionally walk Ortiz, a left-handed hitter.

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The poison was deadly. After falling behind in the count, 1-0, Rodriguez tried to even things by slipping a fastball past Ramirez. Instead, Ramirez pulled the trigger and launched the pitch all the way out of the venerable old yard, giving his team a 6-3 victory in the game and a 2-0 lead in the best-of-five series.

"I haven't seen the tape yet, but obviously it wasn't a good pitch," Rodriguez said in the quiet of the visitors' clubhouse. "I fell behind, and I wanted to get back in the count, so I challenged him with a fastball and he got it. That's it."

The decision to walk Ortiz in that situation, Scioscia suggested, was an easy one -- in part because Ramirez is a righty.

"Both those guys are terrific," he said of Ramirez and Ortiz, who also was walked intentionally in the fifth and drew a division-series record four free passes on the night. "We're going to take our chances with some matchups. It just made sense not to go after David, and it didn't work tonight."

Asked about his plan of attack against Ramirez, K-Rod struck a fairly defiant tone.

"No plan," he said. "I was just trying to go at him, trying to challenge him. You either get him out, or you give up a hit. It's 50-50."

This wasn't a hit. This was such a mammoth clout on which Angels left fielder Garret Anderson didn't even mix in a courtesy drop-step toward the Green Monster. He simply watched the ball rocket over his head on its way to landing on Lansdowne Street outside the stadium.

"Manny's been one of the best hitters in the league for 12 years -- or whatever it's been -- for a reason," said Shields. "And he got us. David got us [Wednesday] night [with a two-run homer off Game 1 loser John Lackey] and Manny got us tonight."

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Shields, who posted a 7.36 ERA in 31 regular-season appearances after the All-Star break and was eventually supplanted as the Angels' go-to guy in the eighth inning by Justin Speier, insisted that his confidence was never shaken by the slump. So he also insisted that his scoreless outing didn't boost said confidence.

The confidence he addressed was the feeling he had about his team's ability to climb out of the daunting hole they face in heading home for Game 3.

"We played good baseball here both nights; we really did," he said. "It didn't work out the way we wanted it to, but that's baseball. We need a three-game winning streak. It's that simple.

"And we've won three in a row a bunch of times before, so why can't we do it again?"

Mychael Urban is a national writer for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

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