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FANS IN BOSTON ARE NO ANGELS MATTHEWS SAYS CROWD AT FENWAY PARK CAN CREATE HOSTILE ENVIRONMENT.

Byline: DOUG PADILLA

Staff Writer

TORONTO - The Angels first will play in another country before heading off to another planet.

A three-game series at Toronto, which starts today, will be nothing compared with the shenanigans to follow when the Angels take a four-game, three-day tour of Boston's Fenway Park.

To Gary Matthews Jr., Fenway Park even beats out Yankee Stadium for the most trash-talking place in baseball. And the comments are not always above board.

"You know, Fenway is one of those places where it can be hostile if you're not accustomed to it, depending on what kind of player you are emotionally," Matthews said. "It's not that friendly. Your first time in there it takes some getting used to. They're loud, they can be obnoxious. It's one of the few places you hear racial comments every once in a while. It's different.

"And I've learned to enjoy it. They're passionate about their team. They're loud, they're drunk."

There always have been plenty of stereotypes when it comes to Red Sox fans, and Matthews didn't miss one. In one breath -- OK, maybe two -- Matthews touched on the good and bad about playing in the bandbox on Yawkey Way.

"I think it's even different from New York," Matthews continued. "New York, they are passionate about their team, they really know the game, but sometimes they have a little bit more couth ... a little more class than the fans in Boston.

"At least in New York they appreciate players who play hard and play the game right. They let you know that, even if you are the visiting team. In Boston they just smash you for three straight days, verbally assault you the whole time. They're different places."

If Matthews wasn't a target of the Fenway fans already, he just guaranteed he will be this time.

"I'm used to it," he said with a shrug.

Friday already was shaping up to be a long day, with a day-night doubleheader at Boston that starts at 1 p.m. Eastern time, with the second game at 7. It could be an even longer afternoon and evening for Matthews.

But the Angels are used to long days in Fenway, even if they're only playing one game. They lost all three games they played there earlier this season, avoiding a fourth defeat when rain forced Friday's twin bill.

The Angels are 8-17 in Boston since 2002 and 12-25 there since 1999, but feel much better about their chances after winning two of three against the Red Sox at home last week. The Angels actually rallied to take leads in all three games.

The Angels' latest offensive resurgence carried over into the just-completed sweep of Minnesota. Proving they can play with anybody at home -- they are the first to 40 home victories in baseball -- the Angels now must do something about that 29-30 road record. Three games against a steady Blue Jays club will help gather a head of steam heading into Boston.

Getting consistency throughout the lineup has been the key lately, unlike June, when Reggie Willits and Chone Figgins were blazing hot and carried the team.

"I think when your offense is being consistent, everybody is pitching in and it starts flowing better that way," Figgins said. "It's not pressure on everybody. It's not Garret (Anderson), it's not Vladdy (Vladimir Guerrero), it's not me, (Orlando) Cabrera, Willits, (Casey) Kotchman or Matthews, it's everybody."

The Angels will need to keep that consistency through August and September, secure a playoff berth and then keep surging into October.

"Every game we're pressuring clubs," Angels manager Mike Scioscia said. "You're not always going to score 10 runs a game but we're pressuring clubs and getting chances. I think against good pitching you're going to have to keep setting the table because everything won't fall into place against top pitchers. You will have to keep pushing to get opportunities to score and give you the better chance."

The Angels will continue to use that mentality this week, and perhaps over the weekend they can show that Fenway Park really isn't such an intimidating place after all.

"I've heard it all, 'Junior, your dad (stinks) and you (stink) too,'" Matthews said. "There is just not much more they can say. I'm accustomed to it, I really am. Like I said, I enjoy playing there, I really enjoy playing in Boston."

doug.padilla@sgvn.com

(626) 962-8811, Ext. 2731

ANGELS

MONDAY

Off day

TODAY

Angels (Saunders, 6-0) vs. Toronto (Halladay, 13-5), 4:07p.m.,

Rogers Centre.

TV: FSN West.

CAPTION(S):

2 photos

Photo:

(1 -- color) The Angels will play four games in three days this weekend at Fenway Park in Boston after a three-game series in Toronto.

Jim McIsaac/Getty Images

(2) A Boston fan mocks the N.Y. Yankees Johnny Damon. The Angels' Gary Matthews Jr. says he's used to Red Sox fans.

Al Bello/Getty Images
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Title Annotation:Sports
Publication:Daily News (Los Angeles, CA)
Date:Aug 14, 2007
Words:817
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