ANAHEIM, Calif. (AP) - Dan Haren had allowed only one unearned run over his previous 22 starts. On Friday night, the Boston Red Sox scored two on a mixup in the Angels' outfield, and it was a great comfort to Jon Lester - who didn't need any extra help.
Lester scattered four hits over six scoreless innings and the Red Sox overcame a shaky performance by their bullpen to beat the Los Angeles Angels 4-3.
The Red Sox capitalized on a tough error charged to center fielder Peter Bourjos. After a two-out walk to Jed Lowrie and a double by J.D. Drew, slumping Carl Crawford followed with a lazy flyball to short right-center. Bourjos, nine-time Gold Glove winner Torii Hunter and second baseman Howie Kendrick all converged on it, but no one took charge, and Buorjos made a last-second lunge at it before the ball hit off his glove.
``It was kind of a 'tweener,' manager Mike Scioscia said, ``But it was up there long enough that somebody should have been camped under it. (It was) not a Bermuda Triangle. Peter wasn't aggressive enough. There's a chance there's going to be some indecision. Peter's a tremendous center fielder; that's one play he's going to learn from.'
Haren (4-1) didn't find fault with Bourjos' effort.
``Pete's the only center fielder who gets to the ball Gonzalez hit,' Haren said. ``I couldn't believe he got there. There's not another center fielder who gets to that ball. He's playing tremendous outfield for us. It was just one mistake. If he keeps doing what he's doing, we'll be fine.'
The Red Sox improved to 8-5 following a season-opening six-game losing streak, making manager Terry Francona's 52nd birthday a happy one.
Lester (2-1) struck out eight, walked two and departed with a 4-0 lead after throwing 111 pitches. Boston's starters have allowed no more than two earned runs in the last seven games with a 1.19 ERA.
Haren allowed four runs, two earned, in six innings. The right-hander struck out six and walked three in his first loss in 13 starts since Aug. 20 at Minnesota.
``I don't want to lose, obviously, but the chances were that I wasn't going to go 34-0. So it was probably going to happen at some point,' Haren said. ``It was kind of a weird game. A couple of balls found holes, so it's not like it was flying everywhere.'
Matt Albers, activated from the 15-day disabled list on Thursday after missing 11 games with a strained muscle in his back, made his first appearance since April 5 for the Red Sox and gave up an RBI single to Jeff Mathis in the seventh.
Bobby Jenks surrendered an RBI single in the eighth to Bobby Abreu that ended an 0-for-15 drought. Abreu got to second on a wild pitch and came all the way home on a passed ball by Jarrod Saltalamacchia, but Jonathan Papelbon pitched a scoreless ninth for his fifth save in as many attempts.
``As far as consistency, I think Mariano Rivera's No. 1 on that list. But Pap has shown over the years that he's going to be every bit as good as him,' Angels left fielder Vernon Wells said. ``When he comes into the game, you know you've got your work cut out for you.'
Red Sox third baseman Kevin Youkilis, 3 for 16 lifetime against Haren, got the night off after fouling a pitch off his left shin in the first inning of Thursday night's series opener. Francona said Youkilis would be back in the lineup Saturday night to face Ervin Santana.
Saltalamacchia doubled with one out in the third, as Hunter had trouble making the catch against the wall in right-center. Saltalamacchia advanced to third after Hunter caught Marco Scutaro's flyball near the right field line, and Jacoby Ellsbury drove in the game's first run with a double.
Scioscia went to the mound and got into a very animated conversation with Haren before the three-time All-Star struck out Pedroia to end the inning.
``Mike was a little frustrated, as everyone was,' Haren said. ``We thought some calls weren't going our way, so we kind of talked it out and he made sure I stayed focused.'
Lester struck out his first four batters before giving up a single to Wells and a walk to Alberto Callaspo. Scioscia started the runners on a 3-2 pitch to Mark Trumbo with one out, and Trumbo's hard grounder to Dustin Pedroia gave the Gold Glove second baseman enough time to apply the tag on the sliding Callaspo and throw to first to complete the inning-ending double play.
Lester escaped another jam in the bottom half when Abreu flied out to center with runners at second and third after getting behind 3-0 on the Angels' designated hitter.
``I got a gift there with the 3-0 pitch. It looked a little up, but we got the call,' Lester said. ``Then I just tried to battle back into the count with a good fastball hitter. I made a mistake, but he ended up hitting it right at (Ellsbury). So it was a good mistake.'
Notes: The Angels have lost 11 of the last 12 meetings since sweeping Boston in the 2009 AL division series. ... Lester has not allowed a home run in 26 innings over his last four starts, after giving up three in Boston's season opener at Texas. ... The Red Sox are 5-4 on Francona's birthday since he took the job, including a doubleheader sweep in 2009.
The Associated Press News Service
The Associated Press
All Rights Reserved