ANAHEIM, Calif. — Koji Uehara got one fastball past Mike Trout for a called strike. Not the second.
The best player in baseball beat the Red Sox on Friday night, Trout’s solo home run with two outs in the bottom of the ninth inning giving the Los Angeles Angels a 1-0 victory.
As the crowd of 43,234 chanted “MVP, MVP,” Trout had the second hit of the game for the Angels, a blast to left center that was gone as soon as he hit it.
“Just trying to keep my approach and control my emotions and not hit a home run. If I had thought about it, probably wouldn’t have happened. Got a fastball and drove it,” said Trout, who has 27 home runs and was the MVP of Tuesday’s All-Star Game.
Trout had been hitless in five career at-bats against Uehara, striking out three times.
“I knew that I had a good record against him. But he had a good at-bat against me today,” Uehara said via his translator.
The Red Sox have dropped two straight and three of four to fall 7½ games out of first place.
Uehara (2-4) had a steak of 10 scoreless innings snapped.
Sox starter Wade Miley had arguably the best start of his career, allowing one hit over seven shutout innings. He walked two and struck out six. The lefthander took a perfect game into the sixth inning and didn’t give up a hit until the seventh.
“Wade was outstanding. That was a well-played game and unfortunately we come up on the wrong side,” manager John Farrell said. “He was aggressive; he threw a lot of strikes.”
In two starts against the Angels this season, the first two times he has faced Los Angeles in his career, Miley allowed one run on five hits over 15 innings.
Miley walked leadoff hitter David Freese in the eighth inning and Farrell went to Junichi Tazawa, who retired the side from there.
The Sox went to Uehara in the ninth inning with the top of the Los Angeles order up. He got two outs before leaving a fastball up. It was a no-doubter off the bat.
“He was trying to go down and away and it leaked back a little bit on the plate,” Farrell said.
Farrell wanted Uehara to pitch, even in a scoreless game on the road. The decision spoke to both the importance of the game to the Red Sox, who are fighting to stay relevant in the pennant race, and the lack of trustworthy options in the bullpen.
“Given his success against those guys in that part of the lineup, even though it’s a handful of at-bats, felt like that was going to be the game,” Farrell said. “Went to our guy who had been very, very good for us.”
Said Uehara: “I was a little bit surprised. But I needed to be ready in that situation.”
Was he ready?
“Of course, yes,” Uehara said.
After answering four questions, Uehara walked away. He appeared furious.
Miley beat the Angels on May 24 at Fenway Park, allowing one run over eight innings. He retired the first 14 batters in that game before Chris Iannetta walked.
This time, Miley retired the first 16 batters before — man, baseball is a funny game — Iannetta drew a walk.
Pitching out of the stretch for the first time all night, Miley got Daniel Robertson on a fly ball to left field before Johnny Giavotella grounded to shortstop and Iannetta was forced at second base.
The Angels got their first hit leading off the seventh inning when Kole Calhoun hammered a first-pitch fastball off the wall in center field.
Trout flied out deep to the gap in right field to advance Calhoun to third base. With Albert Pujols up, the Red Sox pulled the infield in. The All-Star first baseman popped the ball up to the right side and right fielder Shane Victorino took charge for the second out.
Erick Aybar was next and he grounded a ball between shortstop and third base. Xander Bogaerts made a backhanded play and threw across his body to get Aybar by a step and preserve the shutout.
“The defense made some really good plays behind me but this game didn’t work out,” Miley said. “Bogaerts made an unbelievable play. I though it was a hit off the bat.”
Mike Napoli pumped his fist after the out was made and the Red Sox congratulated Bogaerts as he returned to the dugout. It was the latest in a series of plays the 22-year-old has made that he didn’t make last season.
As Miley worked like a metronome, pumping pitches as quickly as catcher Ryan Hanigan would get the sign down, lefthander C.J. Wilson handled the Red Sox with efficiency. The Sox had runners on base in each of the first eight innings against him but could not score a run.
Bogaerts extended his hitting streak to 11 games with a two-out double in the first inning. David Ortiz hit the ball hard the other way but right to third baseman Freese.
Pablo Sandoval was stranded at second base in the second inning after a walk and a wild pitch. Ortiz singled in the fourth inning before Hanley Ramirez grounded into a double play.
Ortiz singled with two outs in the sixth inning and was stranded. Napoli walked in the seventh, moved up on a passed ball and was stranded from there.
Bogaerts reached on an infield single with two outs in the eighth inning. With Ortiz up, pitching coach Mike Butcher had a long conversation with Wilson on the mound. Ortiz went the other way again but flied harmlessly to left field to end the inning.