Angels 5, Red Sox 2

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.