He's continuing to make up for lost time.
Lackey aims for a fourth consecutive victory as the visiting Red Sox conclude a three-game set Sunday night against Los Angeles, which tries to build on a thrilling win.
Lackey (6-5, 2.81 ERA) failed to approach the All-Star form and big-game reputation he earned with the Angels in his first two years with Boston, going 26-23 with a 5.26 ERA in 2010 and '11. He missed all of 2012 while recovering from Tommy John surgery.
The right-hander, however, leads the Red Sox rotation with a 4.39 strikeout-to-walk ratio and owns a career-low ERA.
"I'm healthy," he said of his resurgence. "I've been locating the ball pretty good, but it has happened before, you know. I'm just having a good time pitching. I'm not really worried about what slack I need to pick up or any of that. I missed a full season. I'm enjoying feeling good and enjoying competing."
Lackey allowed one run in a season-high eight innings of a 4-1 win over San Diego on Tuesday. He's 3-0 with a 2.17 ERA over his last four starts.
"That's as good as I've seen John throw in a number of years," Padres manager Bud Black told MLB's official website. "The velocity was really up the first 50 or 60 pitches. He had a good breaking ball in the last few innings. His arm looked good."
Lackey compiled a 2.45 ERA in winning his first four starts against his former team, then yielded eight runs in four-plus innings of an 11-0 loss May 5, 2011, in his most recent start against them. He has had trouble with Josh Hamilton , who is 12 for 27 (.444) with four homers in their matchups.
Hamilton came through with a two-run walkoff homer in the 11th inning of Saturday's 9-7 win, the Angels' ninth in 11 games. Hamilton is batting .375 with two homers, nine RBIs and 10 runs during an 11-game hitting streak.
"I was trying to do a little too much at the plate earlier in the game, and then I understood that I should just be relaxing up there like I've been doing the last couple of weeks," said Hamilton, who finished the night 2 for 6 with three RBIs. "I'm just taking it one at-bat at a time and understanding that if you don't succeed on one, you get to do it three or four more times in the game."
Hamilton got the chance to win it because Los Angeles rallied with four runs in the ninth.
The Red Sox, who had won five straight and nine of 10, will try to bounce back against Jered Weaver (2-4, 3.79). The right-hander beat St. Louis 5-1 on Tuesday to snap a five-start winless stretch, allowing one run in seven innings while throwing a season-high 105 pitches.
"I think the ball's coming out a lot better than it had been, and that's just a sign of the arm strength coming back," said Weaver, who missed more than seven weeks with a broken left elbow earlier this year. "I feel strong again, and hopefully I can maintain this through the rest of the season."
|Boston Red Sox|
|June 29, 2013||Stephen Drew||15-Day DL||Right hamstring tightness|
|June 28, 2013||Stephen Drew||Day-to-Day||Left game - right hamstring tightness|
|June 23, 2013||Shane Victorino||Day-to-Day||Left game - back|
|June 23, 2013||Franklin Morales||15-Day DL||Strained left pectoral|
|June 22, 2013||Franklin Morales||Day-to-Day||Back|
|June 15, 2013||David Ross||60-Day DL||Concussion|
|Los Angeles Angels|
|June 30, 2013||Peter Bourjos||15-Day DL||Nondisplaced bone fracture, right wrist|
|June 29, 2013||Peter Bourjos||Day-to-Day||Left game - right wrist|
|June 23, 2013||Peter Bourjos||Day-to-Day||Left game - left thumb injury|
|June 21, 2013||Tommy Hanson||15-Day DL||Strained right forearm|
|June 21, 2013||Josh Hamilton||Day-to-Day||Right wrist soreness|
|June 18, 2013||Jason Vargas||15-Day DL||Blood clot, left arm|
ANAHEIM, Calif. (AP) -- Jered Weaver and John Lackey hooked up in a pitching duel that pitted former teammates against one another. There was no animosity, with Weaver crediting Lackey for helping him develop and Lackey playing the part of proud big brother.
Weaver got the best of Lackey on Sunday night, combining with three relievers on a five-hitter as the Los Angeles Angels defeated the Boston Red Sox 3-0 for their 10th win in 12 games.
"He got me the first time we matched up and it was nice to be able to even it up," Weaver said. "He did a lot of great things for the Angels and for me. He kind of took me under his wing and taught me a lot of things."
Weaver (3-4) allowed five hits, struck out six and walked two in 6 2-3 innings.
"That's my boy," Lackey said. "He's become a great pitcher in the league and he's fun to watch. He was pretty good when he got here. I mean, he started off like 9-0 or something (as a rookie). We discussed more things off the field, preparation-wise, than pitching stuff. He had that down pretty good from the start."
Lackey (6-6) entered the game on a roll, with a 3-0 record and a 2.17 ERA over his previous four starts. He struck out nine in seven innings and was charged with two runs and five hits.
"I don't know if I've ever seen John Lackey have better stuff," Angels manager Mike Scioscia said. "Those two guys went pitch-for-pitch. It's the best stuff Jered's had all season."
Ernesto Frieri pitched the ninth to earn his 22nd save in 24 chances.
Weaver gave up back-to-back hits to Jacoby Ellsbury and Daniel Nava to open the game, and then got out of the jam by retiring Dustin Pedroia on a liner to third base, and striking out David Ortiz and former Angel Mike Napoli .
"Stuff like that's going to happen," Weaver said. "You just got to limit the damage."
It was Weaver's first outing since becoming a father on Friday, when he named his first child Aden David Weaver in honor of his late teammate and friend Nick Adenhart .
"In the back of my mind I was anxious to get back over to the hospital," he said. "It'll be fun to pick him up and cuddle with him."
Weaver and his wife, Kristin, will take the baby home on Monday, an off day for the Angels before they open an interleague series in Chicago against the Cubs on Tuesday.
Weaver joked that young Aden would get the game ball, saying, "He deserves this one. He's been gripping pretty hard with his left hand."
As he always does, Weaver scrawled the initials `NA' into the mound before his first pitch of each inning.
"It means a lot to us to be able to keep Nick's memory alive," he said. "We're always thinking about him."
Mike Trout , who will start for the AL in next week's All-Star game in New York, put the Angels ahead 1-0 in the first with his 15th homer.
Hank Conger made it 2-0 with two outs in the fifth, with his drive landing in the same right field area as Trout's shot.
"The second one, I'd like to have that pitch back for sure," Lackey said. "But the first one was a great player doing great things. It was about 96 and away. A pretty good hitter made a pretty good swing."
Albert Pujols singled with two outs in the sixth and the Red Sox shifted their infield for Josh Hamilton , leaving third base open, which allowed Pujols to take third as Hamilton walked. But Howie Kendrick grounded out to end the threat.
The Red Sox had runners on first and second in the seventh, with Weaver yielding singles to Napoli and Brock Holt before turning it over to Dane De La Rosa, who got Jose Iglesias to fly out to right to end the inning.
The Angels added a run on Mark Trumbo 's sacrifice fly in the eighth.
NOTES: Lackey and Weaver faced off previously on July 27, 2010, in Anaheim, with Lackey earning the win. ... Red Sox OF Shane Victorino wasn't in the lineup a day after leaving the game with a left hamstring injury, the same thing that landed him on the DL last month. ... Red Sox LHP Andrew Miller returned to Boston on Sunday with a walking boot on his left foot. He was to be examined further on Monday.