Kotchman, Hunter homer in LA’s 7-5 win over Boston
Hunter hit a three-run homer and Casey Kotchman added a two-run shot in Los Angeles’ six-run sixth inning, helping the Angels beat Boston 7-5 Monday night for their sixth straight regular-season win against the Red Sox.
Francisco Rodriguez worked the ninth for his major league-best 44th save for the Angels, who held on for the win against a team that swept them 3-0 in both the 2004 and 2007 AL division series. Los Angeles has won 10 of 12 overall.
“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.”
Los Angeles (65-40) improved baseball’s best road record to 34-19. Boston has the AL’s best home record at 37-14, but has lost three of its last four at Fenway Park.
The Red Sox remained one game behind AL East-leading Tampa Bay, which lost at Toronto. The Angels started the day with a 10 1/2 -game lead in the West over Oakland.
“They might be the class of the American League right now,” Red Sox manager Terry Francona said after the opener of the three-game series. “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.”
The Angels swept the Red Sox in Los Angeles from July 18-20.
Kotchman’s homer gave the Angels a 3-2 lead. Hunter’s shot drove Matsuzaka (11-2) from the game after he hadn’t given up a homer in any of his previous five starts and one in the previous eight.
“This guy gave up three runs in the last five starts and, pow, you hit a homer,” Hunter said. “I know he’s a good pitcher and I had to let that go and just swing hard just in case you hit it.”
Manny Ramirez singled home Boston’s first two runs and homered off Rodriguez for the last run in the ninth. It was his 20th homer, making him the eighth player to hit that many in 14 consecutive seasons.
It came a day after he said he would agree to a trade if it would make him and the Red Sox happy. Boston has a $20 million option for next year on Ramirez, who said he was “tired” of the team.
With more than two months left in the season, Rodriguez is just 13 saves shy of Bobby Thigpen’s record of 57 with the White Sox in 1990. No other player this season has more than 30 saves.
Jered Weaver (9-8) allowed three runs in 5 1-3 innings for Los Angeles in his first start since last Tuesday when he left after three innings with tightness in his back. He said he felt fine Monday.
Matsuzaka retired the side in order in the fourth and fifth, striking out three of the six batters, but the first five batters of the sixth all reached base—and scored.
“There were some mistakes that I thought we missed earlier,” Scioscia said. “In the sixth inning, when he made a mistake, we didn’t miss it.”
Hunter had two homers and five RBIs in an 11-6 win over Baltimore on Saturday.
“He’s felt a real comfort level in the box probably over his last 30 at-bats or so,” Scioscia said.
“When I’m facing a good team like the Angels, I need to mix up my pitches a little bit more,” Matsuzaka said.
The Red Sox squandered opportunities in the sixth, when Jacoby Ellsbury struck out with the bases loaded, and the seventh, when Ramirez grounded into an inning-ending double play with runners at first and second.
“They tried to fight back,” said Scot Shields, who allowed Ellsbury’s RBI single in the eighth, “but as a whole the bullpen made the pitches.”
Boston 2B Dustin Pedroia failed to reach base for the first time in 30 games, going 0-for-5. … Matsuzaka missed a chance to join five other Red Sox pitchers who started a season at 12-1 or better—Roger Clemens (13-0) and Cy Young, Dick Radatz, Bob Stanley and Tim Wakefield (all 12-1).