The Los Angeles Angels will be sad to see their series with the Boston Red Sox conclude.
After winning in Boston last week, the Angels look to sweep the season series from the Red Sox for the first time Thursday night in Anaheim.
Los Angeles (68-62) has plated 42 runs while batting .351 in winning the first five meetings with Boston (62-69). The Angels, who swept their series at Fenway Park from Aug. 21-23, jumped out to a 9-1 lead after three innings Wednesday and cruised to a 10-3 victory to pull within 3 1/2 games of Baltimore for the AL's second wild-card spot."That's the only chance we have, is to get hot," said C.J. Wilson, who snapped his 11-start winless skid Wednesday. "We have to come from behind and beat everybody in front of us."
Kendrys Morales hit a two-run homer in the first inning, while Torii Hunter was one of five Angels with a multihit game, finishing 3 for 4 with two doubles and two RBIs. Hunter is batting .389 with seven RBIs in the last four against Boston, and is 5 for 12 with a pair of doubles lifetime against scheduled starter Jon Lester (8-10, 4.98 ERA).
Howie Kendrick has hit safely in all five games against the Red Sox, and 15 in a row overall since Aug. 12, batting .356 with six doubles and eight RBIs.
Although Boston's starting pitchers have a 10.17 ERA against Los Angeles, Lester may be able to bring that number down.
Lester has a 2.25 ERA in winning a season-high three straight starts after going 0-5 with a 7.49 ERA in his previous seven."Winning cures everything," the left-hander said after allowing three runs and six hits in seven innings in Friday's 4-3 victory over Kansas City. "I've been feeling good with the adjustments that we've made."
Lester went out to pitch the eighth Friday, but after throwing three pitches - all balls - he exited with a cramp in his left hamstring. That injury isn't believed to affect this start.
Lester, though, is hopeful he can carry over his prior success against Los Angeles. This will be his first outing of the season versus the Angels, against whom he has a 0.86 ERA in winning his last three.
Just like Lester is starting to accumulate wins like most figured he would prior to the season, Zack Greinke pitched the way the Angels envisioned when they acquired him before the non-waiver trade deadline his last time out.
Greinke was solid in his Angels debut, yielding two runs over seven innings, but followed that up by posting a 7.20 ERA in his next four - permitting at least four earned runs in four straight starts for the first time in his nine-year career.
That wasn't quite what the Angels were banking on when they acquired the 2009 AL Cy Young Award winner from Milwaukee, but he came through with a strong performance in Detroit on Friday, permitting one run and five hits in 7 2-3 innings of a 2-1 victory. The right-hander struck out five and walked two.
"That's the kind of game we need him to give us when he gets the ball," Mike Scioscia said.
Greinke has historically pitched well against the Red Sox, losers of seven of 10, posting a 2.10 ERA in his last four starts, with his last one coming in 2010.
Dustin Pedroia , who has batted .358 while hitting safely in 22 of 23 games, is 2 for 9 lifetime against Greinke.
|Boston Red Sox|
|August 25, 2012||David Ortiz||15-Day DL||Aggravated right Achilles strain|
|August 25, 2012||Daniel Nava||15-Day DL||Sprained left wrist|
|August 24, 2012||Franklin Morales||15-Day DL||Left shoulder fatigue|
|August 20, 2012||Carl Crawford||Day-to-Day||Left elbow surgery|
|August 20, 2012||Carl Crawford||15-Day DL||Left elbow surgery - out for season|
|August 11, 2012||Will Middlebrooks||15-Day DL||Broken right wrist - out for season|
|Los Angeles Angels|
|August 22, 2012||Albert Pujols||Day-to-Day||Left game - right calf tightness|
|August 19, 2012||Peter Bourjos||15-Day DL||Sore right wrist|
|August 13, 2012||C.J. Wilson||Day-to-Day||Left game - bruised left hand|
|July 30, 2012||Mark Trumbo||Day-to-Day||Back spasms|
|July 30, 2012||Dan Haren||Day-to-Day||Back stiffness|
|July 29, 2012||Mike Trout||Day-to-Day||Left knee contusion|
ANAHEIM, Calif. (AP) -- Zack Greinke stopped worrying about his rocky start with the Los Angeles Angels when he figured it couldn't get any worse.
Since then, Greinke and the Angels have both been plenty good enough to think this season might still have a happy ending.
Greinke yielded five hits over seven strong innings, Albert Pujols hit an early two-run double and the Angels swept their season series with Boston for the first time with a 5-2 victory over the Red Sox on Thursday night.
Greinke (3-2) was unintimidating but effective in his seventh appearance for the Angels, striking out five and limiting Boston to two runs during his third victory in four starts. The right-hander might have found his groove in Orange County after a slow start following his arrival from Milwaukee, yielding three runs in 14 2-3 innings over his last two starts.
"I was doing so bad, I figured I couldn't do any worse," the 2009 AL Cy Young Award winner said. "The main thing (now) is I'm not worried about messing up. ... Better location, I guess that's the main thing. I'm not leaving my mistakes over the middle of the plate."
Mark Trumbo and pinch-hitter Alberto Callaspo drove in runs in the third inning for the Angels, who stayed in the AL wild-card hunt by winning all six meetings with Boston over the past 10 days. Los Angeles has won seven of nine overall, keeping pace with Baltimore and Oakland in the five-team wild-card race.
Mike Trout tied the franchise rookie record by scoring his 103rd run for Los Angeles, which has won eight straight over Boston dating to last season, one victory shy of the Angels' club record against the Red Sox.
"Right now, we're playing like it's all or nothing, and we're all in," said Torii Hunter , who had three hits for the second straight night. "They're kind of in a rebuilding stage. You've still got to respect the pitching over there, but we're feeling good about how we're playing."
James Loney went 3 for 4 with a homer and Jon Lester threw a nine-hitter for the Red Sox, who have lost eight of 11. Boston, which had never been swept in a season series of at least six games by any opponent in franchise history, hit several hard shots right at Los Angeles fielders in the final innings, leaving manager Bobby Valentine even more frustrated than usual.
"That eighth inning, we had two line drives with guys on base and couldn't find a gap," Valentine said. "Their guys were playing in the right place in the outfield."
Kevin Jepsen escaped a jam of his own making in the eighth, and Ernesto Frieri pitched the ninth for his 16th save in 18 chances.
Lester (8-11) gave a lift to Boston's worn-out bullpen by pitching a complete game, but fell behind 5-1 in the fourth inning. The left-hander's first three-game winning streak of the season ended.
"That's probably one of the best lineups in the American League, just because they can do everything," Lester said of the Angels. "It's pretty impressive to see them run around the bases."
After Trout led off the game with a four-pitch walk, Hunter singled. Pujols drove them both home with a sharp double down the left-field line, giving the three-time NL MVP 90 RBIs in 124 games during his first season with Los Angeles.
Greinke then issued back-to-back walks to load the bases in the second inning, but Boston managed only one run on Mike Aviles ' sacrifice fly.
Los Angeles scored twice on four straight singles against Lester in the third inning, capped by Callaspo's run-scoring hit.
Callaspo replaced second baseman Howie Kendrick , who left with a sore right knee. Kendrick, who said his knee suddenly pained him while he ran off the field midway through the third, flied out in the first inning, which meant his 15-game hitting streak ended.
Kendrick isn't expected to have an MRI, and he plans to try to play Friday in Seattle.
Loney sneaked his first homer for the Red Sox just over the short fence in the right-field corner in the sixth inning. The former Dodgers first baseman has a hit in each of his first five games with Boston.
NOTES: Trout scored 103 runs in 108 games to tie the Angels rookie record set in 1987 by Devon White , who needed 159 games to reach the same number. ... Greinke allowed a homer in his sixth consecutive start, matching the longest such streak of his career in 2005. ... After one home series, the Angels are back on the road for another week starting Friday in Seattle, where Dan Haren faces Kevin Millwood . ... Boston's nine-game West Coast road swing continues in Oakland on Friday night.