ANAHEIM, Calif. — With Jered Weaver picking up right where John Lackey left off for the Los Angeles Angels, not even Josh Beckett could keep the Boston Red Sox from the brink of playoff elimination.
Weaver yielded two hits while dominating Boston into the eighth inning, and Maicer Izturis drove home the tiebreaking run in Los Angeles' 4-1 victory over the Red Sox on Friday night, extending the Angels' first-round lead to 2-0.
Game 3 is early Sunday at Fenway Park, with Boston's Clay Buchholz facing Angels newcomer Scott Kazmir.
Erick Aybar followed Izturis' RBI single with a two-run triple during the Angels' two-out rally in the seventh to break up a stellar pitching duel between Weaver and Beckett, Boston's ace and most reliable playoff performer.
Aybar's hit chased Beckett, who yielded five hits and four runs in 6 2-3 innings during his first playoff loss in a Red Sox uniform. It was his first defeat in nine postseason starts since Game 3 of the 2003 World Series with Florida.
The Red Sox eliminated the Angels in three of the past five postseasons, but they've mustered just one run and eight hits in the series' first two games.
After Lackey and Darren Oliver combined to blank the Red Sox 5-0 in the series opener, Weaver was better than Beckett, the former World Series MVP, in just his second postseason start.
Although the Red Sox scored their only run of the series in the fourth on Victor Martinez's RBI single, Weaver limited wild-card Boston to just four baserunners before his Los Angeles teammates came through at the plate and out of the bullpen — albeit just barely.
Boston got the tying run to the plate in the ninth with Kevin Youkilis doubled off Kevin Jepsen and Jason Bay drew a two-out walk from Brian Fuentes. Although Red Sox fans might have conjured visions of Dave Henderson's memorable ninth-inning homer for the Red Sox in Anaheim at Game 5 of the 1986 AL championship series, Fuentes retired Mike Lowell on a fly to center for the save.
Boston's sixth playoff run in seven seasons is in serious trouble against the Angels, who had lost 12 of their last 13 playoff games against the Red Sox before taking the first two at Angel Stadium, where they had lost six straight playoff games.
Both teams combined for just seven baserunners over the first 6½ innings, but free-swinging Vladimir Guerrero drew a walk from Beckett to open the Angels seventh. After pinch-runner Howie Kendrick swiped second — no surprise for one of the majors' most active teams on the basepaths — Izturis worked the count before driving Beckett's 94th pitch into center for the go-ahead run.
After Beckett hit Mike Napoli with a pitch, Aybar rapped a triple to center, scoring both runners.
Izturis, the second baseman who batted .300 in his breakout regular season, missed last fall's playoffs with a thumb injury, and he sat out Game 1 in favor of Kendrick. He spent the year playing stellar infield defense alongside Aybar, the young shortstop who posted career highs in most hitting categories this year.
Weaver just completed his best pro season, going 16-8 with a 3.75 ERA as the Angels' most dependable starter. Despite a late-season three-game losing streak, he has been largely outstanding since mid-August, pushing the Angels to their fifth AL West title in six years.
Beckett, the former World Series MVP for Florida and a star during Boston's 2007 title run, missed his penultimate scheduled start of the regular season with back spasms, but pronounced himself healthy for the postseason. He's no stranger to pitching through pain after gutting out the postseason through a strained oblique muscle last year.
Beckett has never started two games in a division series, but Boston is likely to send him out again if the series goes to a decisive Game 5.
Boston had won nine of 10 playoff games against the Angels over the past five seasons before Los Angeles' 5-0 victory in Game 1, led by Torii Hunter's three-run homer. The Red Sox didn't score in the final eight innings of Tampa Bay's series-clinching Game 7 win in last year's AL championship series, and Lackey dominated them in Game 1.
Weaver retired Boston's first nine batters in just his second postseason start, but Jacoby Ellsbury led off the fourth with a triple over Hunter's outstretched glove in center. Ellsbury scored on Martinez's single, ending Boston's string of 20 consecutive scoreless postseason innings.
Los Angeles evened it later in the fourth when Bobby Abreu led off with a single and eventually scored on Kendry Morales' sacrifice fly.
NOTES: Except for a lingering headache, Boston manager Terry Francona was mostly recovered from a brutal 24-hour bout of what he suspected was food poisoning. ... Ellsbury's triple snapped an 0-for-24 playoff skid for Boston's leadoff hitter.