Red Sox 7, Angels 0

John Lackey kept the line moving – a variation on one of Boston
manager Terry Francona’s favorite expressions regarding his potent
batting order. Only this time, it has to do with the Red Sox’s
starting rotation.

Lackey beat his former team again with eight superb innings,
Carl Crawford hit his first home run in a Boston uniform, and the
Red Sox completed a pitching-dominated four-game sweep of the
Angels on Sunday with a 7-0 victory that extended their winning
streak to five.

The Red Sox extended their streak to nine consecutive games in
which their starting pitcher has gone at least five innings and
allowed fewer than three runs. The rotation, which has a 0.88 ERA
during this stretch, tied the longest such streak in franchise
history, set in 1946.

”Sure, there’s definitely a sense of not wanting to be the guy
to stop the streak,” Lackey said. ”It’s a pretty good run, but
it’s not unexpected. We’ve got some guys here with some pretty good
track records.”

Lackey (2-2) scattered six hits, struck out six and stranded
eight baserunners, becoming the third straight Boston starter to
hold the Angels scoreless. The right-hander’s solid outing came on
the heels of Daisuke Matsuzaka’s eight innings of one-hit ball in
Saturday night’s 5-0 victory.

Josh Beckett allowed two runs and just three hits over eight
innings in the series opener before the Red Sox won 4-2 in 11. The
next night, Jon Lester gave up four hits in six scoreless innings
of a 4-3 win, helping Boston’s rotation carve out a minuscule 0.60
ERA in the series. The only blemish was Torii Hunter’s two-run
homer off Beckett.

”I think it obviously helps to see somebody do it. You just try
to follow it and not screw it up,” Lester said after Sunday’s
game. ”We’re just executing pitches right now. That’s the main
thing. We’re very confident. We just have to stay healthy. We’ve
been in this position before with a good rotation and weren’t able
to stay healthy, which didn’t get us anywhere. So if everyone keeps
taking their turn everything should take care of itself.”

Lackey, who spent his first eight big league seasons with the
Halos and won Game 7 of the 2002 World Series as a rookie, is 4-0
with a 2.45 ERA in four starts against them. Two of those wins have
come at Angel Stadium, where Lackey is 51-32 with a 3.93 ERA in 114
starts, including a 4-2 victory for the Red Sox last July 27.

”I’ve won a few games in this stadium for sure,” said Lackey,
who left Anaheim to sign a five-year, $82.5 million free-agent
contract with the Red Sox in December 2009. ”This is a great place
to pitch, especially with that ocean air coming through here a
little bit. So you’ve got to hit it pretty good. It’s nice to come
back here and see some guys you know. But, really, if you look at
their lineup today, there’s not too many guys that I played with
for an extended period of time.”

Adrian Gonzalez had three hits and two RBIs for the Red Sox, who
have won 13 of 14 games against the Angels since Los Angeles swept
them in the 2009 AL division series. The sweep dropped the Halos’
record to 12-10.

”We’ve squeaked out about as many wins as you could expect from
having so many issues on the offensive side right now,” manager
Mike Scioscia said. ”Do we need more offense? Yes. Are we lucky to
be where we are? No. I don’t think it’s luck. I mean, it’s not luck
when you guys like Jered Weaver and Dan Haren pitching as well as
they are.”

Neither Haren nor Weaver pitched Sunday, however. Matt Palmer
(1-1) allowed four runs and six hits in five-plus innings.

Crawford, who signed a seven-year, $142 million deal with the
Red Sox in December after setting career highs with 19 homers and
90 RBIs last season for Tampa Bay, made it 6-0 in the sixth with a
drive to right-center on a full count against Hisanori Takahashi
after Kevin Youkilis chased Palmer with a leadoff single.
Crawford’s homer came in his 81st at-bat with the Red Sox.

”It just felt good to hit the ball hard and have it leave the
yard,” Crawford said. ”I was just glad I got the first one out of
the way and was able to do something good to help the team. I’ve
been feeling a little bit better, but I’m not out of the woods yet.
I’m still in a grind mode.”

A light but steady rain pelted Angel Stadium all morning, but
the only part of the infield that was covered was the mound, and
the first pitch was delayed 5 minutes. The Angels have been rained
out at home only 15 times in franchise history and 10 times since
moving down to Anaheim. The last rainout was June 16, 1995, against
the Chicago White Sox. The Red Sox have never been rained out in
Southern California.

Lackey, who came in with a 9.82 ERA in his first three starts,
had already missed a turn in the rotation when Boston’s scheduled
home game against Tampa Bay on April 13 was rained out. He didn’t
like it, and he’s used that disappointment to fuel his competitive
fire.

”That’s the first time I’ve pitched in the rain here, I
think,” Lackey said with a grin. ”It was pretty crazy to warm up
in the rain. But I’ve played in Boston for more than a year now, so
I’ve gotten used to throwing in the rain.”

Notes: This was Boston’s first four-game sweep at Anaheim since
June 1980. The Red Sox swept a four-game set from the Angels last
May at Fenway Park, outscoring them 36-16. … Angels 2B Maicer
Izturis was a late scratch because of a sore left hamstring.