ANAHEIM, Calif. — Lucas Giolito looked more like himself Monday night against the Angels, throwing six innings of two-run ball and striking out six.
Had he received a needed helping hand from his defense in the second inning, it could have been six scoreless and exiting with a 3-0 lead rather than 3-2. The lead quickly evaporated on Taylor Ward’s two-run double against Reynaldo Lopez in the seventh, and the Angels held on for a 4-3 victory.
Finding his way after posting a 1-3 record and 9.47 ERA over previous five starts, Giolito faced Brandon Marsh with two outs in the second and a runner on second, and Marsh looped a fly ball near the 350-foot sign near the right-field corner, but Gavin Sheets let the ball pop out of his glove for an RBI triple.
“I thought I had it,” Sheets said. “It’s frustrating. Obviously a ball that’s a tough play, one that I wanted and thought I had. When you’ve got Gio on the mound, you know runs are tough to come by for the other team and you want to make a play for him in that situation.”
Andrew Velasquez then singled off Giolito’s cleat, making it 2-0. Giolito went on to finish with six strikeouts and one walk. He retired the last nine batters he faced.
“Last two innings, I really felt like myself,” Giolito said.
Giolito said the mechanical tweaks he has focused on in recent weeks worked.
“Still a lot of work to be done,” he said. “Feeling a little funky in certain parts of the game, but I feel like I got into a nice groove the last couple of innings. It felt very natural out of my windup and was able to get some good 1-2-3 innings.”
Sheets had two hits including a double in the seventh, when he scored on Josh Harrison’s go-ahead single. On Harrison’s single, Seby Zavala was caught too far off second, taking some air out of a potential big inning.
“I can’t believe this happened,” La Russa while watching the replay after the game. “Overran the base. Big out. Mistakes. Mistakes are part of the game.”
Anderson on the move
Tim Anderson, who collected the 100th and 101st stolen bases of his career, scored from first on Andrew Vaughn’s double in the sixth. Vaughn scored on Jose Abreu’s game-tying double.
Anderson is the Sox’ top vote-getter in American League All-Star Game balloting and second to the Blue Jays’ Bo Bichette at the shortstop position. Through Sunday, Anderson was batting .339/.376/.468 with an .843 OPS in 45 games. Bichette was hitting .252/.297/.422 with a .719 OPS in 71 games.
When Vaughn’s batting average was touching .330 last week, the first sounds of All-Star Game chatter came within earshot of the second-year outfielder. To even be in the conversation almost took Vaughn’s breath away.
“Those are amazing words,” Vaughn said. “I don’t know how to explain it. It’s pretty cool to be in that company. It would be an extreme honor, but the No. 1 goal and everyone in here is the same — get to the playoffs.”
Vaughn made his major-league debut April 2 last year in Anaheim. The Angels’ clubhouse has signed baseballs on the wall of players who debuted here since 2020.
Aside from the long flight to Anaheim doing it no favors, catcher Yasmani Grandal said his low back “is feeling good,” but he has no timetable yet for an injury rehab assignment. Grandal, who hasn’t played since June 11, has been taking swings off the tee the last few days.
“The most important thing is the running,” Grandal said. “If I can do the running I should be able to do everything else.”
“It’s step by step,” manager Tony La Russa said. “You have to be patient. There’s too much at stake. There are more things he has to pass.”
Hendriks throws bullpen
Closer Liam Hendriks, on the injured list since June 14 with a right forearm flexor strain, threw a bullpen Monday. Hendriks is targeting this weekend for a return, which is more ambitious than general manager Rick Hahn’s original expectation of a three-week absence.
“Ask him or ask the trainers. There is a different opinion,” La Russa said when asked how Hendriks came away from throwing off a mound. ‘‘He wants to go.”
How Hendriks responds Tuesday could present a clearer picture of how soon he’ll be available. The Sox won’t want to rush him.
• Yoan Moncada is expected to come off the IL on Tuesday.