ANAHEIM -- Sliced and diced by Dice-K.
Boston strengthened its grip on the Angels on Saturday night behind Daisuke Matsuzaka. Rarely has the man from Japan been so good, so dominant, as in this 5-0 decision in front of 40,025 at Angel Stadium.
In complete command from a perfect first inning on, Matsuzaka applied the clamps while his hitters were taking their best hacks at Ervin Santana. The convincing victory left the Red Sox one happy ending away from a four-game sweep.
"He did whatever he wanted," Angels leadoff man Maicer Izturis said. "He threw everything he had at us, and there wasn't much we could do. His control was better than I've seen from him."
Having allowed one second-inning infield hit to Alberto Callaspo and three walks in eight innings, Matsuzaka gave way to Daniel Bard for the ninth. His 115 pitches, 78 for strikes, prevented Matsuzaka from going the distance.
"He was throwing strikes, he changed speeds," Boston manager Terry Francona said. "He stayed out of the middle. That was fun to watch. He gave us a chance to score and then spread it out a little bit. That's a good formula for winning."
Callaspo's bullet off Matsuzaka for a single with one out in the second inning was nearly an out. Shortstop Jed Lowrie got to the deflection and made it close at first, but Callaspo beat the throw.
"Fastball, changeup, breaking ball, splitter ... everything worked for him," Erick Aybar said. "He threw a lot of strikes. That's the best I've seen him pitch."
Aybar delivered an infield hit in the ninth leading off against Bard, but second baseman Dustin Pedroia preserved the shutout. With Aybar at second, Pedroia robbed Vernon Wells of an RBI single on a bullet through the middle, smothering it and making the throw for the final out.
"He was in the zone," Angels manager Mike Scioscia said of Matsuzaka. "When you get one hit, it's hard to drive up the pitch count. He was one step ahead. His best stuff was locating his fastball."
Boston took the lead in the second inning when Lowrie doubled to right and scored on Carl Crawford's two-out shot off the glove of Aybar at shortstop for a single.
Jacoby Ellsbury's single and steal and Adrian Gonzalez's RBI single made it 2-0 in the third.
It was Ellsbury again in the fifth with a leadoff single and steal in front of Kevin Youkilis' two-run homer to right-center, his fourth of the season.
Boston stretched its lead in the sixth when Crawford doubled to the opposite field with two outs and scored on Jason Varitek's double to right, ending an 0-for-19 spin.
The Angels threatened in the second when Torii Hunter walked and Callaspo hit the shot that Matsuzaka deflected in self-defense. Hank Conger flied out and Mark Trumbo struck out, ending the disturbance.
"The ball I hit for the out [to center] was the only thing I saw that was elevated at all," said Trumbo, who struck out twice. "Everything he threw was down. It looked like the split was his out pitch to lefties, and his slider was effective against righties. He was really good."
Matsuzaka gave up 10 runs in seven innings in his first two starts but was coming off a one-hit gem across seven innings against the Blue Jays.
Santana, on the heels of a career-high 17 wins in 2010, is 0-3 with two no-decisions. He lasted seven innings, yielding five earned runs on nine hits and a walk, with nine strikeouts. He has been charged with 11 earned runs in his past 11 innings.
"They did some things," Scioscia said. "They stole some bases and got the big hit from Youkilis. Ervin pitched better than his line score shows."
Jason Bulger worked two scoreless innings in relief of Santana.
The Angels will ask Matt Palmer to quiet the Boston attack on Sunday while they try to solve their former ace, John Lackey, in the finale. Lackey was 3-0 against his original club last season as Boston was taking nine of 10 from the Angels.
The rivalry has taken a dramatic turn since the Angels swept the Sox in the 2009 American League Division Series, completing what had been a two-year run of dominance.
In 2008 and '09, the Angels were 13-5 against Boston in regular-season play, going 8-1 in '08 before the Sox got revenge in the ALDS.
When the Red Sox took three games at Angel Stadium last July, it ended the Halos' streak of 79 consecutive home series without being swept.
Lyle Spencer is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.