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ANAHEIM, Calif. — If the Los Angeles Angels make their way into the postseason, they should put out a statement thanking the Red Sox for all their generous help.
The Sox and Angels played six times over a 10-day period in the summer heat of the pennant race and Los Angeles won all of the games. The Angels finished off their sweep on Thursday night with a 5-2 victory before a crowd of 39,013.
The Sox were outscored, 47-29, by the Angels this season and have lost eight straight games against Los Angeles going back to last year.
This is the first time the Sox have been swept in a season series of at least six games by any opponent.
Jon Lester (8-11) allowed five runs on nine hits over eight innings. But his 121-pitch complete game came with a lack of significant run support. The Sox had only seven hits — three by James Loney — and were hitless in six at-bats with runners in scoring position.
Angels starter Zack Greinke (3-2) went seven innings for the win. Kevin Jepsen and Ernesto Frieri (16th save) finished off the Sox.
The Sox left two runners on base in the eighth inning against Jepsen as Cody Ross and Jarrod Saltalamacchia flew out. Mike Aviles (2 for 3 with an RBI) had a one-out single in the ninth but ended the game stranded on third.
“Just couldn’t find a gap,” manager Bobby Valentine said. “Hit some balls hard and they seemed to play them in the right place in the outfield.”
The Sox, who have lost eight of 11, continue their road trip in Oakland Friday night.
The Angels are 3½ games out in the wild-card race with 31 games left to play. The bad news is they won’t play the Sox again until next season.
Lester has three complete games, a career high and the most for a Sox lefthander since Frank Viola had six in 1992.
“I just felt like it was my game,” said Lester, who had 110 pitches after seven innings but came out for the eighth and retired the side in order. “I felt good so I told Bobby and [pitching coach Randy Niemann] when I came in, ‘I’m not coming out.’ I just, for whatever reason, I don’t know why, felt it was my game.”
Lester entered pitching as well as he has all season, winning three starts in a row and allowing five earned runs over 20 innings. He also had a strong track record against the Angels. Lester faced them three times in 2010-11, giving up one earned run on 15 hits over 21 innings and striking out 24. But he struggled from the start this time.
Lester walked leadoff hitter Mike Trout in the first. Torii Hunter, who was 6 for 13 in the series, followed with a single.
Lester then faced Albert Pujols for the first time in his career. He lined a double down the line in left, scoring two runs.
“It’s tough, regardless of who it is, you try and go to your strengths first,” Lester said. “We did that. A 1-0 cutter in and he hits a double.”
Pujols was the DH in the series after missing four games with a strained right calf muscle. He drove in four runs in the series, two Thursday night.
Lester left Pujols stranded at second by striking out Mark Trumbo, getting Howie Kendrick on a fly to center, and Erick Aybar on a grounder to shortstop.
The Angels scored two more runs in the third. Hunter, Pujols and Trumbo had singles to account for the first run. With Kendrick having trouble with a sore right knee, Alberto Callaspo pinch hit and had the fourth consecutive single to drive in Pujols. That made it 4-1.
“You don’t have a feel for what their game plan is going to be, especially with me throwing that cutter,” Lester said. “You don’t know if they’re going to take it, if they’re looking out over the plate. It took us a little bit.”
Lester walked .227-hitting Vernon Wells to start the fourth inning. Chris Iannetta followed with a hit-an-run single to right field that sent Wells to third.
Trout grounded into a 6-4-3 double play smartly turned by Mike Aviles and Dustin Pedroia as a run scored. Lester did not allow another run, his curveball keeping the Angels in check.
Greinke had a 5.22 ERA in his first six starts for the Angels after being obtained from Milwaukee July 27. But he was sharp against the Sox.
Greinke was finished after seven innings and 107 pitches. He allowed five hits, walked two and struck out seven.