ANAHEIM, Calif. -- J.D. Drew thought several times in the past six weeks that his season might be over because of back problems.
Fortunately for the Boston Red Sox, he was wrong.
And with that home run, the team with baseball's best record this year is on the verge of elimination.
"This was huge," Drew said. "We were in a spot: tie ballgame. They had seemingly had the momentum."
But Drew, who played in only two of his team's final 38 games of the regular season, took it away with one swing.
"I thought at some point I was going to have to shut it down and watch the team go through the playoffs, so it's nice to be out there," he said. "It's just trying to get everything back into playing shape while you're in the playoffs. It isn't the easiest thing to do, but it's working out."
One win from advancing to the AL championship series, Boston won its 11th consecutive postseason game against the Angels, outscoring them 80-33 and setting the record for most postseason victories in a row over one opponent. The Red Sox won their ninth consecutive postseason game overall.
Tampa Bay, the Los Angeles Dodgers and Philadelphia also have 2-0 first-round series leads. Of the 35 teams to fall behind 2-0 in the division series before this year, just five have come back to advance, according to the Elias Sports Bureau. Only one -- the 2001 New York Yankees -- came back to win after losing the first two at home.
Boston swept the Angels in the first round in 2004 and last year, both times en route to World Series titles.
"What happened in '04 or 1986 does not matter to us," Red Sox manager Terry Francona said. "We set out to win today's game. It was difficult, but we did it. Now we'll go prepare for the next game."
"There is a challenge in front of us and the only way to meet it is going to be pitch by pitch, inning by inning on Sunday," Angels manager Mike Scioscia said. "We played well in their park all year, and we have to do it now."
Drew's RBI double and Jason Bay's three-run homer off Ervin Santana gave Boston a 4-0 lead in the first inning, but the Angels, 100-62 during the regular season, clawed back. Los Angeles tied the score in the eighth when Chone Figgins hit a leadoff triple off Justin Masterson -- the Angels' first extra-base hit of the series after 19 singles -- and Mark Teixeira hit a one-out sacrifice fly against Jonathan Papelbon (1-0).
Rodriguez (0-1), who set a record with 62 saves in the regular season, allowed a leadoff double to David Ortiz in the ninth on a ball that bounced out of the glove of Reggie Willits, who tried for a leaping catch at the wall in right-center. After Kevin Youkilis grounded out, Drew pounced on a 2-2 changeup and sent it deep over the wall in center.
"It just worked out that I squared it up really nice," Drew said.
Rodriguez, who allowed a game-ending home run to Manny Ramirez in Game 2 last year, hung his head, then covered much of his face with his glove.
"He's one of the best pitchers in the league," Ortiz said. "If you get a pitch you like, you better hit it. You might not see it again."
Papelbon retired all six batters he faced, getting help from Youkilis in the ninth. The third baseman caught pinch-hitter Gary Matthews Jr.'s foul popup with a terrific leaping grab over a camera well for the second out. Papelbon then struck out Howie Kendrick to end the game, and the closer pumped his arms and pounded his chest after his final pitch.
"That's kind of the situations I live for," Papelbon said. "We definitely came here and took care of business, but there's business still to be finished."
The Angels, who have lost nine consecutive postseason games, stranded 11 runners -- all in the first seven innings. They are 4-for-21 (.190) with runners in scoring position in the two losses, stranding 20 runners overall.
"We left a lot of men on base, but those big bombs killed us tonight," Hunter said. "The odds are against us, but they've got to win one more game. I've seen some sweeps happen in major league baseball. I feel like we can beat those guys."
Figgins singled in a run in the bottom half, and Hunter did the same in the fifth, with the Angels stranding runners at the corners both times.
Matsuzaka gave up three runs and eight hits in five innings, throwing 108 pitches. Santana allowed five runs and eight hits in 5 1/3 innings.
Now the Angels have no margin left. With another defeat, all those wins would mean nothing.
"I hadn't experienced a tough loss yet with these guys," Teixeira said. "This one hurts."
Hunter injured his right ankle in the third when he was called out by umpire Kerwin Danley on a grounder, then leaped into the air in frustration and landed awkwardly. He stayed in the game. ... The Red Sox played without 3B Mike Lowell, MVP of last year's World Series. Lowell went hitless in four at-bats in Game 1, appearing hampered by a torn labrum in his left hip that limited him to one at-bat in the final two weeks of the regular season. ... Ortiz extended his AL division series hitting streak to 13 games, tying Bernie Williams for the second-longest behind Derek Jeter (15).15