Lackey tries to defeat the Red Sox for the second time this month when the teams continue their three-game series Tuesday night at Fenway Park.
Lackey (8-2, 3.02 ERA) looked like a front-runner for the AL Cy Young award a month ago, going 6-1 with a 1.44 ERA in nine starts through the end of June after missing the season’s first six weeks due to a right triceps strain.
July has told a different story for the right-hander, who has a 7.61 ERA and a .346 opponent batting average this month while surrendering six runs in three of his four starts. Lackey’s record is 2-1 in July, due to the fact the Angels have scored at least 10 runs for him in each of his last three outings.
Lackey is 2-6 with a 6.01 ERA in 12 career outings versus Boston, but his only quality start this month came at home against the Red Sox (61-46). He limited them to three runs and five hits over seven innings of an 11-3 win July 18.
Manny Ramirez went 2-for-2 with a homer and a walk off Lackey in that defeat, continuing his remarkable success in their meetings. He is 12-for-25 (.480) lifetime against Lackey with five homers, three doubles, eight walks and a .618 on-base percentage. Fellow Boston slugger David Ortiz is 10-for-26 (.385) with two homers, three doubles and a triple against Lackey, but missed the meeting earlier this month while rehabbing a wrist injury.
The Angels (65-40) improved to 3-1 on their current road trip - and 10-2 in their last 12 games - with a 7-5 win in Monday’s series opener. Torii Hunter hit a three-run homer and Casey Kotchman added a two-run shot off Boston starter Daisuke Matsuzaka in a six-run sixth inning.
“They might be the class of the American League right now,” Red Sox manager Terry Francona said of the Angels. “They have tremendous starting pitching, a very good bullpen, a lot of speed. They catch the ball very well. I could name a lot of things. Hopefully, tomorrow I won’t be naming those things and we’ll end up winning.”
Ramirez homered, becoming the eighth player in major league history to hit 20 or more in 14 consecutive seasons, but it wasn’t enough for the Red Sox, who suffered their third loss in four games and squandered a chance to move into a tie with Tampa Bay atop the AL East.
Although Boston swept Los Angeles in the 2004 and 2007 postseasons, the Angels have dominated this season’s series, taking six of seven meetings.
“I don’t know if there’s any rhyme or reason to some of the streaks,” Angels manager Mike Scioscia said, “but we’ve been playing more consistent baseball this season on the road and at home.”
Red Sox starter Clay Buchholz (2-5, 5.81) lost to Lackey on July 18, and will oppose him again Tuesday. The 23-year-old right-hander has endured a season of growing pains, losing his last three decisions and failing to pitch through the sixth inning in eight of his 11 major league starts.
He surrendered eight runs - four earned - and eight hits in 4 2-3 innings July 18. He pitched a bit better last Wednesday at Seattle, giving up three runs and seven hits - including two homers - in 5 1-3 innings, but did not factor in the decision of Boston’s 12-inning, 6-3 win.