Red Sox-Angels Preview

John Lackey enjoyed plenty of success during his seven seasons

with the Los Angeles Angels.

Since leaving Southern California for Boston, he’s also had

plenty of success against them.

Looking to stay undefeated against his former team, Lackey takes

the mound Sunday for the Boston Red Sox as they try for a four-game

series sweep and a seventh straight road victory over the

Angels.

The Red Sox (9-11) are bouncing back strongly from a 2-10 start,

having won seven of eight thanks largely to the starting

rotation.

Boston starters are 6-1 with a 1.01 ERA over the last eight

games. Daisuke Matsuzaka struck out nine and allowed one hit over

eight innings of Saturday’s 5-0 win.

The Red Sox now turn to Lackey (1-2, 9.82 ERA) as they aim to

tie a franchise record – set in 1946 – for consecutive games (nine)

in which their starter has gone at least five innings and

surrendered fewer than three runs.

“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.”

Lackey went 102-71 with Los Angeles (12-9) from 2002-09,

recording the fifth-most wins in the AL over that span. His 50

career wins at Angel Stadium are tied with Mark Langston for fifth

all-time.

However, Lackey has largely underachieved since signing a

five-year deal with Boston prior to the 2010 season. He posted a

4.40 ERA last season. The right-hander was far worse than that in

his first two starts of 2011, giving up a total of 15 runs in 8 2-3

innings. Francona even chose to skip Lackey’s turn in the rotation

after his scheduled April 13 start got rained out.

The long layoff seemed to help Lackey, who held Oakland to one

run and four hits in six innings of Tuesday’s 5-0 road loss.

“I’ve never been skipped before,” Lackey told the Red Sox’s

official website. “…I felt pretty good. I was locating pretty

well. I was able to throw breaking pitches over for strikes, and my

fastball location was definitely better than it was the first two

times.”

While Lackey is 0-5 with a 5.86 ERA over his last seven road

games dating to last season, he thrived against the Angels in 2010

– winning all three of his starts against them with a 3.38 ERA.

He’ll be facing a slumping offense Sunday. Los Angeles is

batting .150 and has scored five runs during its second three-game

skid of the young season.

“We’re in a little tough streak right now,” 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.”

Torii Hunter, who went 0 for 3 on Saturday, is batting .106 over

his last 12 games. Fellow outfielder Vernon Wells went 0 for 4 and

saw his average drop to .174. Hunter and Wells are a combined 16

for 74 (.216) against Lackey.

Angels scheduled starter Matt Palmer (1-0, 4.22) limited the

powerful Rangers to one run and three hits in six innings Tuesday,

earning the victory in a 15-4 win at Texas.

The right-hander allowed six runs in a single relief appearance

versus the Red Sox last season, but his only previous career start

against Boston was a complete-game effort with eight strikeouts in

an 8-4 home victory over Boston on May 13, 2009.

Red Sox third baseman Kevin Youkilis, who has a double and a

triple in two career at-bats against Palmer, homered Saturday after

sitting out Friday with a shin injury. Youkilis has four homers and

eight RBIs in his last eight games.