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10/11/09 8:09 PM EST

Sox tip their hats to Halos

Boston's respect for postseason rivals grows after sweep

BOSTON -- Make no mistake, the Angels have always had the respect of the Red Sox.

On Sunday at Fenway Park, Boston's admiration only grew following a 7-6 win.

Not only did the Halos oust the Sox from postseason play with a three-game sweep in the American League Division Series, but they achieved the feat in a fashion befitting of a World Series contender.

Trailing, 6-4, heading into the ninth inning of Game 3, the Angels could have conceded and looked ahead to Game 4. They began Sunday riding high from a pair of victories in Games 1 and 2, one win away from their first victory in five postseason series against the Red Sox.

They could have folded. Instead, they plated three runs against Boston closer Jonathan Papelbon -- who had not allowed a run in 26 career postseason innings entering the ninth -- and advanced to the AL Championship Series.

"They had some good timely hitting," first baseman Kevin Youkilis said. "That was their big thing. They manufactured a few more runs than we did, and they pitched well."

"They played great," second baseman Dustin Pedroia said. "They pitched well the first two games, and we got on them early today, but they found a way to come back. That's why they're a great team. Obviously, we're all upset, but hopefully they continue to do well."

Such praise from Pedroia was reflective of the manner in which the Angels disposed of their longtime playoff nemesis, who had eliminated them in three of the past five postseasons.

"They're a solid team," third baseman Mike Lowell said. "It's not like they were high school kids and we should have pounded them into the ground. They didn't give away at-bats, even when they were down. They kept grinding it out and made us work for our outs.

"They came through, and you have to give them credit."

John Barone is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.