Red Sox 5, Angels 0

Daisuke Matsuzaka pitched eight innings against the Los Angeles

Angels and gave up only one hit – in self-defense.

The right-hander struck out nine in a nearly flawless

performance and got home run support from Kevin Youkilis in a 5-0

victory on Saturday night, extending the Boston Red Sox’s winning

streak to four games. Even Jason Varitek helped out his batterymate

with an RBI double that snapped an 0 for 19 drought.

The only hit off Matsuzaka (2-2) came with one out in the second

– a vicious line drive back to the box by Alberto Callaspo that

deflected off Matsuzaka’s glove as he tried to protect his face and

caromed off his glove to shortstop Jed Lowrie. Callaspo just beat

Lowrie’s throw to first.

”He battled a little bit with his command early, but he was

able to still make a completion pitch when he was battling,”

Varitek said. ”At other times he was executing pitches

beautifully. He had a real good changeup that was able to slow down

a lot of bats.”

Matsuzaka, who came within one strikeout of matching his career

high, was coming off a 9-1 win last Monday at Fenway Park in which

he held Toronto to one hit over seven innings. That victory ended a

career-worst stretch of seven straight winless starts for the

five-year veteran, who came in with a career 5.88 ERA against the

Angels – including the postseason.

”He was hitting his spots, and it looked like those guys

weren’t feeling comfortable at the plate,” Youkilis said. ”When

he goes out there and throws strikes and throws it where he wants

to and get ahead, that’s what he can do.”

Los Angeles’ only other hit was an infield single to deep

shortstop by Erick Aybar against Daniel Bard leading off the ninth,

but the right-hander came back to strike out Bobby Abreu and Torii

Hunter before retiring Vernon Wells on a grounder to second.

”We’re in a little tough streak right now,” Angels manager

Mike Scioscia said. ”Those guys are pitching well, but we have to

do a better job against good pitching. We haven’t been able to do

it in this series. We were trying to work the counts on Matsuzaka

and drew a few walks, but for the most part, he had good command

and we paid a price for it.”

The Red Sox extended their streak to eight consecutive games in

which their starting pitcher has gone at least five innings and

allowed fewer than three runs. The rotation, which has a 1.01

during this stretch, is one game away from tying the longest such

streak in franchise history, set in 1946.

”I think they’re all feeding off each other a little bit,”

manager Terry Francona said. ”Getting some stability and

consistency in the rotation really helps.”

Ervin Santana (0-3) gave up five runs and nine hits in seven

innings, raising his ERA to 5.51. It’s the first time in the

right-hander’s seven-year career that he has gone winless in his

first five starts. Last season he was 17-10, and in 2008 he started

out 6-0 in seven starts.

With second baseman Howie Kendrick, catcher Jeff Mathis and

center fielder Peter Bourjos all getting rested, Angels manager

Mike Scioscia’s shuffled his lineup and had Hank Conger, Mark

Trumbo and Reggie Willits filling out the bottom three spots in the

batting order. The trio was a combined 0 for 8 with six

strikeouts.

”We battled as much as we could, but (Matsuzaka) was just

better,” Trumbo said. ”He used his split-finger more to

left-handed hitters, and to the right-handed hitters he threw more

sliders. But it really didn’t matter. He was on. It was kind of

hard to establish a trend with him.”

Boston took a 2-0 lead with Carl Crawford’s RBI single in the

second inning and a run-scoring single by Adrian Gonzalez in the

third. It was only the fourth RBI for Crawford in his first 75

at-bats with the Red Sox, who signed the four-time All-Star to a

seven-year, $142 million free-agent contract in December after he

drove in a career-high 90 runs last season for Tampa Bay.

Youkilis made it 4-0 in the fifth with a two-out opposite-field

homer to right-center after a leadoff single by Jacoby

Ellsbury.

Varitek, who came in 1 for 17 lifetime against Santana, got his

long-awaited hit after striking out and grounding out his first two

times up. The three-time All-Star started in the ninth spot in the

order for the first time since April 11, 2009, at Anaheim.

NOTES: The Red Sox have seven stolen bases during the first

three games of this four-game series, as many as they had during

their first 17 games. … Matsuzaka made his fourth career

regular-season start against the Angels and first in Anaheim. He

also faced the Halos twice in the postseason, getting no-decisions

in 2008 at the Big A and 2007 at Fenway Park. … Matsuzaka also

pitched at Angel Stadium in the 2006 World Baseball Classic for

Japan, beating Mexico in the semifinals with five scoreless innings

for one of his three victories – and winning MVP honors for the

tournament.