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Red Sox 4, Angels 2

Lackey return stellar

He handles his ex-team for Sox

By Peter Abraham
Globe Staff / July 28, 2010

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ANAHEIM, Calif. — John Lackey arrived at Angel Stadium four hours before the first pitch was thrown last night, headphones wedged into his ears and a look of grim determination on his face.

Monday had been his day to say hello to old friends at the park. Now it was time to go to work.

In his return to the stadium he once called home, Lackey was booed long and loud by fans who chose to remember he left as a free agent and not the eight years he was their ace, or the World Series he helped win.

But in the end, Lackey had the last word.

“The scoreboard talks the loudest,’’ he said after pitching into the eighth inning to give the resurgent Red Sox a 4-2 victory over the Angels.

Lackey (10-5) matched his season high with 124 pitches, allowing two runs over 7 1/3 innings. Bobby Abreu’s solo homer knocked him from the game.

“He was tremendous,’’ manager Terry Francona said. “He pitched great from the start until when he was done. I’m sure he was amped up and excited to pitch here.’’

Daniel Bard finished the eighth inning before Jonathan Papelbon picked up his 24th save.

David Ortiz scored what proved to be the winning scored in the eighth inning as he drew a walk and hustled around on a double by Adrian Beltre. The Sox padded their lead in the ninth when Marco Scutaro doubled and scored on an error.

Jed Lowrie gave the Sox a 2-1 lead with a two-run double in the seventh inning off Jered Weaver (9-7).

The Red Sox, 6-0 against the Angels this season, will try for the series sweep this afternoon with Josh Beckett on the mound.

The Sox are 5-4 on their 10-game road trip, having won four of the last six games. They remain five games out in the wild card but picked up a game on the first-place Yankees and trail by seven games in the division.

“This team is fighting,’’ catcher Victor Martinez said. “The pitching is making a difference.’’

Lackey gave up seven hits and a walk, refusing to give in against his former teammates after going down, 1-0, in the third inning on Abreu’s RBI double with two outs.

Lackey has given up three earned runs in 22 1/3 innings in his three starts since the All-Star break.

“He has a lot left in the tank,’’ Francona said.

Lackey dominated the Angels for seven innings at Fenway Park May 5, allowing one run on two hits. That trend continued early last night as he retired six of the first seven batters he faced. The only exception was Hideki Matsui, who reached on a two-base error by left fielder Jeremy Hermida.

Lackey allowed a run in the third inning but it could have been worse.

Juan Rivera led off with a double and was bunted to third by Jeff Mathis. When Maicer Izturis grounded to short, Rivera broke for the plate and was thrown out by Marco Scutaro.

Alberto Callaspo kept the inning going with a single to left. Abreu’s double off the wall in right field drove in Izturis. But the ball was hit to hard and Callaspo had to stop at third. Lackey ended the inning by striking out Torii Hunter. He did not allow another run until Abreu’s home run in the eighth.

In an attempt to revive his team’s sputtering offense, Francona moved J.D. Drew into the second spot of the lineup Sunday. It worked well for two days as Drew had three hits, scored a run and drove in two others.

But Drew took himself out of the lineup 15 minutes before the first pitch with a tight left hamstring. He will not play today and the Red Sox hope to get him an MRI to assess the extent of the injury.

Drew revealed after the game that the hamstring has bothered him for several weeks and became aggravated over the weekend.

“It’s getting gradually worse,’’ he said. “This is a chance to see exactly what’s going on. I hope not [to go on the disabled list]. I hope we can make a diagnosis on how to treat it.’’

Lowrie, the second baseman, moved into the No. 2 hole with Darnell McDonald starting in right field. Both had a significant impact on the game.

The Sox had only four hits over the first 6 2/3 innings against Weaver before McDonald, down 0 and 2 in the count, worked a walk.

“I just had to find a way on base,’’ he said.

Scutaro grounded a fastball into center field and an aggressive McDonald took third base, sliding in just ahead of the throw from Hunter.

Finally, Weaver cracked as he left a fastball high in the strike zone and Lowrie crunched it to left field, over the head of Rivera. Two runs scored.

“I knew I hit it well,’’ Lowrie said. “Once you hit it, there’s not much you can do. If it got over his head, it got over his head.’’

Lowrie had stranded runners in scoring position in his previous two at-bats.

“I’m just happy to feel healthy,’’ said Lowrie, who was added to the roster last week after spending the entire season on the disabled list recovering from mononucleosis. “Just to play the game again and contribute is an added bonus.’’

Weaver went seven innings, allowing six hits with two walks and eight strikeouts.

Peter Abraham can be reached at pabraham@globe.com. Follow him on Twitter @peteabe.

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