ANAHEIM, Calif. — The Red Sox were trailing by three runs in the ninth inning late Sunday afternoon and Mookie Betts was down to his last strike against Los Angeles Angels closer Huston Street.
Many of the fans at Angel Stadium were walking up an aisle, looking over their shoulders to see what surely would be the end of the game.
That the Sox had two runners on base wasn’t trivial. But they hadn’t had a big hit all day, all weekend, really.
“It’s been a frustrating time,” said Steven Wright, who had allowed three runs and stood to be the losing pitcher. “You’re sort of desperate for something to happen.”
It did. Betts had a single to center field and a run scored. With the tying run suddenly on base, Dustin Pedroia launched a slider to center field that cleared the fence. Not even Mike Trout could reach it.
Pedroia let out a scream as he rounded first base. Watching from a box behind the plate, president of baseball operations Dave Dombrowski smacked his fist on a table.
Manager John Farrell, who had been ejected earlier, joked that he nearly made it from the clubhouse back to the dugout by the time Pedroia touched the plate.
Xander Bogaerts was next and he homered to left field. In a span of six pitches, the Red Sox had an unlikely 5-3 victory, one of their best of this or any season.
Bogaerts, who rarely shows much emotion on the field, pointed skyward as he crossed the plate and gave leaping high-fives to three teammates before he arrived at the dugout.
Yunel Escobar singled with one out in the bottom of the ninth off Brad Ziegler. But Pedroia fielded a grounder from Kole Calhoun, tagged the runner, and flipped to first to end the game. Trout was left on deck.
“We’ve been through a lot these past few days, the past week or so, week-plus. Been through a lot of tough losses,” Bogaerts said. “This was a special one. It can definitely change the whole season around for us. That’s probably what I’m hoping.”
Until the ninth inning, the Sox had not scored in 16 consecutive innings and were on the verge of their eighth loss in 10 games.
“We find a way to dig a little bit deeper before the 27th out is recorded,” Farrell said. “Give credit to our guys that keep fighting, keep battling.”
If not for Farrell, Pedroia might not have had a chance to be the hero.
Pedroia was called out on strikes in the fifth inning by umpire Gabe Morales and stood at the plate arguing that the pitch was high. Farrell hustled out of the dugout, prodded Pedroia out of the way and was ejected a few seconds later.
The alternative was seeing Pedroia get tossed.
“Given how quick [Morales’s] trigger was, yeah, he was on the verge,” Farrell said.
Pedroia didn’t dispute that notion.
“Yeah, for sure,” he said. “I just said, ‘Man, I’m only 5 foot 7. I’m going to need a trampoline to hit that damn ball. What are we doing here? This is the major leagues.’ ”
Pedroia grounded out with Brock Holt on second base to end the seventh inning, leaving him with a .250 batting average with runners in scoring position. But when he came up again in the ninth, the slate was clean.
“You keep playing the game. That’s the way baseball is,” Pedroia said. “We’re all professional and we’re all going to try to win for 27 outs.”
There also was redemption for Clay Buchholz, who pitched three scoreless innings for his first career victory in relief.
“It feels good to contribute to something like that,” said Buchholz, who lost his spot in the rotation earlier this month. “That’s a huge win for us.”
The Angels took a 3-0 lead in the fifth inning. Escobar singled to center with one out and went to third when Calhoun dropped a flare into shallow center, just out of the reach Pedroia.
Trout, down 1 and 2 in the count, ripped a line drive to the left side that ticked off the glove of a leaping Bogaerts. Escobar scored and Calhoun went to third.
With Trout on the move, Albert Pujols grounded to second. The only play was at first and Calhoun scored.
Andrelton Simmons drew a walk to extend the inning and Jefry Marte dropped a bloop single into center that scored Trout.
Wright allowed 10 hits over five innings but half were softly hit. Still, he has a 6.18 earned run average in his last seven starts.
Tyler Skaggs and three relievers held the Sox to five hits over the first eight innings. The Red Sox had struck out 11 times and not come close to scoring.
“We didn’t have much going until the final inning,” said Farrell, who compared the outburst to a cork popping out of a bottle. “Just outstanding; a couple of big swings. That’s hopefully the start of something.”