© 2009 MLB Advanced Media, L.P. All rights reserved.

10/11/09 5:27 PM ET

Chess Match: Moves loom large

Francona's decision to walk Torii to face Vlad bites Boston

BOSTON -- Every gripping game invites review and managerial decisions.

Red Sox manager Terry Francona made the biggest decision of the game in the ninth inning in a 7-6 loss to Angels in Game 3 on Sunday afternoon. This is Boston. This is a decision they'll be reviewing for a while.

The intentional walk
The situation:
Bottom of the ninth. Two outs. Runners at second and third. Red Sox lead, 6-5. Need one more out. Torii Hunter up. Vladimir Guerrero on deck. Jonathan Papelbon on the mound.

Watch the play WATCH
The decision:Francona walked Hunter intentionally to get to Guerrero. Hunter was 3-for-5 in his career off Papelbon. Guerrero was 1-for-10.

The outcome: Guerrero lined a single to center to drive home two runs and give the Angels the lead.

The analysis: "It's tough to walk the bases loaded. But Pap throws strikes and he had had a lot of success against Guerrero." -- Francona

Pinch-running pickoff
The situation:
Angels outfielder Juan Rivera lined a two-run single with two out in the bottom of the eighth off Papelbon, making it a 5-4 game.

Watch the play WATCH
The decision: Angels manager Mike Scioscia sent in Reggie Willits to pinch-run for Rivera. Willits, between Triple-A and the big leagues, had 16 stolen bases this season.

The outcome: Willits stayed out as Papelbon threw two strikes past Maicer Izturis. Papelbon then threw over and picked Willits off first base to end the inning.

The analysis: "I thought throughout the whole game we did a good job of trying to put pressure on them offensively. -- Scioscia

Bringing in Bard
The situation:
Red Sox starter Clay Buchholz, holding a 5-1 lead, loaded the bases in the top of the sixth when Hunter led off with a double, Guerrero reached on an infield single and Kendry Morales walked.

Watch the play WATCH
The decision: Francona went with rookie right-hander Daniel Bard, who had pitched a scoreless inning in Game 2 in Anaheim, to face the right-handed-hitting Rivera.

The outcome: Bard, after running the count full, got Rivera to hit a grounder to third baseman Mike Lowell that was turned into a double play. A run scored but Bard then retired Maicer Izturis on a popup to shortstop to end the inning.

The analysis: "I thought Buchholz pitched very well. I thought that inning he started thinking about some other things. It was probably time to get him out of there. Bard came in there and did a great job, limiting the damage." -- Francona

T.R. Sullivan is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.