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September 17, 2009

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Dice-K returns to shut down Angels

DAISUKE Matsuzaka gave the Los Angeles Angels another thing to worry about in October. The Red Sox right-hander returned from a three-month stint on the disabled list with six shutout innings on Tuesday night to lead Boston to a 4-1 home victory over the Angels, their likely first-round playoff opponent.

"I've been a burden on my teammates. I feel that I owe them," said Matsuzaka, who hadn't pitched for Boston since June 19 and hadn't won since June 2.

"There's not much left in the season. In the limited opportunity I do have, I want to show my appreciation to my teammates and the fans."

An 18-game winner last year, Matsuzaka (2-5) did not allow a hit through four innings and got a standing ovation when he was relieved after one batter in the seventh. In all, Matsuzaka gave up three hits and three walks while striking out five for his first win at Fenway Park in almost a year.

"The way he pitched shocked all of us," Angels outfielder Torii Hunter said. "Really good for the first time since June 19th."

Elsewhere in the American League, it was: Royals 11, Tigers 1; Orioles 10, Rays 5; Blue Jays 10, Yankees 4; Athletics 6, Rangers 1; Twins 5, Indians 4; and White Sox 6, Mariners 3.

Designated hitter

In the National League, it was: Giants 10, Rockies 2; Phillies 5, Nationals 0; Reds 5, Astros 4; Braves 6, Mets 0; Cubs 13, Brewers 7; Marlins 2, Cardinals 1; Diamondbacks 4, Padres 2; and Dodgers 5, Pirates 4 (in 13 innings).

In Boston, David Ortiz hit his record-breaking 270th homer as a designated hitter - surpassing Frank Thomas - and added an RBI single after Boston broke a scoreless tie in the sixth thanks to a throwing error by John Lackey (10-8). The Red Sox have won six straight since returning to Fenway after Labor Day.

Jonathan Papelbon pitched the ninth and gave up an RBI double to Erick Aybar to spoil the shutout before Howie Kendrick hit a soft roller to third to end the game.

Lackey went 7 2/3 innings and gave up three runs - two earned - on eight hits with three walks and six strikeouts.

The Angels hold a six-game lead over Texas in the AL West while Boston has a 4 1/2-game advantage over the Rangers in the wildcard race. If the standings hold, the Red Sox and Angels would meet in the first round of the playoffs for the third consecutive season.

The Angels have lost 12 of their last 13 playoff games against Boston dating to 1986 and are 0-4 all-time in postseason series against the Red Sox.

"People see it as the Boston Red Sox and a potential playoff matchup, but the playoffs are totally different," Hunter said. "Some guys show up and some guys don't."


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