BOSTON — One fan got a baseball. The rest left with a memory.
Manny Ramirez hit a three-run homer with two outs in the ninth inning off Francisco Rodriguez and the Boston Red Sox beat the Los Angeles Angels 6-3 Friday night, taking a 2-0 lead in their AL playoff series.
The Red Sox, who tied the game in the fifth thanks to the friendly — and legal — grab of a front-row fan, have a chance to complete the sweep on Sunday.
Curt Schilling will face Jered Weaver in Game 3 in Anaheim. The bloody-socked hero of Boston's 2004 World Series run was on his way to the West Coast with Game 1 and 4 starter Josh Beckett, manager Terry Francona said a few hours before Friday's game.
If so, they landed in time to catch the ending of the grueling, four-plus hour affair, in which Daisuke Matsuzaka needed 60 pitches to get through the first two innings.
Four relievers from Boston's well-rested bullpen threw 4 1-3 innings of hitless ball, with Jonathan Papelbon getting the last four outs for the win.
Julio Lugo opened the Red Sox ninth with a single off losing pitcher Justin Speier. On a hit-and-run, Lugo took second on Dustin Pedroia's grounder.
Rodriguez relieved and struck out Kevin Youkilis, then intentionally walked David Ortiz — his record fourth walk of the game — to face Ramirez.
"You've got pick your poison with those guys," Angels manager Mike Scioscia said.
Ramirez, who is coming off the worst offensive full season of his career, hit a 1-0 pitch over the Green Monster and the seats behind it. It was his 21st postseason home run, one behind Bernie Williams' career record.
"Part of the reason he got a chance to swing is David is such a good hitter, such a clutch hitter," Francona said.
It was Boston's eighth consecutive postseason victory over the Angels, who blew a 3-1 lead in the 1986 AL championship series and got swept in the first round of 2004 when the Red Sox ended their 86-year championship drought.
They could be well on their way again.
And having the only World Series MVP in Red Sox history at full strength is going to help
"It feels great," said Ramirez, who had 20 homers and 88 RBIs this season — his lowest totals since he played half-time in 1994. "This is the greatest town ever."