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BOS@OAK: Lackey throws six frames of one-run ball

Maybe the Boston Red Sox were just giving the rest of the American League a head start -- as perhaps could be expected of someone foreseen as heads above the competition.

Maybe the Los Angeles Angels just need a fresh start, one devoid of anything Boston.

One thing is certain: Both teams will greet with relief the end of their four-game Angel Stadium series, which wraps up Sunday.

The Red Sox will return to the East Coast, moving on to Baltimore, convinced that the horrific start of their season was a mirage.

And the Angels will be happy to see them go.

Is it too late for Red Sox Nation to revive that "100 or Bust!" chant, a reference to winning in triple figures, which the Red Sox have never done? After a 2-9 start, and after losing their first seven road games, the Red Sox can climb within one game of .500 with their fifth straight road win.

Before they part, the Angels will have to look at John Lackey, their former ace who gets to try to hand the Halos their first four-game home sweep since July 7-10, 2005, by the Mariners. Matt Palmer will pitch to prevent it.

Lackey was the loser of the third game of that Seattle set, on what was a rare off day for him at Angel Stadium and against an AL West team. The Texan has a lifetime record of 50-32 in Anaheim, and a 44-28 record vs. AL West teams that now includes a 3-0 mark against his former club.

Mike Scioscia's current predicament -- the Angels have dropped 12 of their last 13 games against the Red Sox, including six in a row at home -- would seem to make it difficult for him to express affinity for Lackey. Yet the Los Angeles manager had no trouble waxing nostalgic about the guy who won Game 7 of the 2002 World Series.

"This guy, the feelings will never leave for what he did for our club," Scioscia said. "He was the lead dog, a big part of the teams that won divisions. He left a huge imprint on this organization. He's in another uniform now, and when he's out there, he's going to try to beat us -- and we're going to try to beat him. You wish him well -- except when he faces us."

Lackey has three tough acts to follow: Boston pitchers have shackled the Angels to five runs and 15 hits in the first three games of the series. On Saturday night, Daisuke Matsuzaka added another pearl to the starters' magnificent string. They've allowed two runs or fewer in eight straight games -- and if Lackey makes it nine, it would match the club record, set in 1946.

"I remember [when we were struggling] somebody asked me ... 'What's the best way to get it going?'" said Red Sox manager Terry Francona. "And I said, 'A time or two through the rotation and have them give us a chance every night.' And that's exactly what's happened."

"That's great," say the Angels, who are already looking forward to it happening someplace else.

Red Sox: Varitek gets on the board
• Jason Varitek's sixth-inning double snapped the captain's 0-for-19 drought.

• Jacoby Ellsbury has gone 3-for-9 in his first two games back atop the lineup. He'd been dropped out of the leadoff spot after batting .167 (4-for-27) there in the first six games, all Boston losses.

Angels: Kendrick, Bourjos to return refreshed
• Second baseman Howard Kendrick and center fielder Peter Bourjos will be back in the lineup to face Lackey after having been given Saturday night off.

• Saturday's loss left Ervin Santana without a win five starts into the season for the first time in his career.

Worth noting
Although Matsuzaka earned his first career victory in Angel Stadium on Saturday, he had already experienced memorable success in the park: It was there that he pitched five scoreless innings in Japan's clinching victory over Mexico for the 2006 World Baseball Classic championship, earning MVP honors for the inaugural tournament. Comments