Red Sox 5, Angels 0

For the most part, the Los Angeles Angels were having enough

trouble generating a consistent offense before the Boston Red Sox

came to town.

Facing a locked-in Daisuke Matsuzaka playing follow-the-leader

in a red-hot rotation didn’t help – especially with a makeshift

lineup.

Matsuzaka held the Angels to an infield hit over eight innings

and struck out nine, Kevin Youkilis homered and the Red Sox beat

the Angels 5-0 on Saturday night for their fourth straight victory.

Los Angeles managed only two runs and eight hits in 22 innings

against Josh Beckett, Jon Lester and Matsuzaka during the first

three games of this four-game set.

And it doesn’t figure to get any easier on Sunday, when John

Lackey faces his former club for the fourth time. Lackey, who

pitched eight seasons for the Angels and won Game 7 of the 2002

World Series, won all three starts against them last year.

”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.”

Matsuzaka (2-2) allowed only four baserunners, none of whom

advanced past second base. The only hit off the right-hander 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 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.”

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.

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.

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.

With second baseman Howie Kendrick, catcher Jeff Mathis and

center fielder Peter Bourjos all getting rested, Scioscia 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.”

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

innings with nine strikeouts, 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.

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, drove in

Boston’s fifth run with a double in the sixth after striking out

and grounding out his first two times up. The hit snapped an 0 for

19 drought overall for the Red Sox catcher, who 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.