LOS ANGELES — The Red Sox have been in first place, or close to it, all season. They tend not get too excited about winning games because their goals go beyond what happens in the regular season.
But there was a definite sense of excitement in the visitor’s clubhouse at Dodger Stadium on Sunday night after an 8-1 victory.
“It was a good night for the boys,” said Jake Peavy, who went the distance, allowing only three hits. “That was a lot of fun.”
The Sox took two of three games from the Dodgers, who were the hottest team in baseball. The Dodgers had not lost a series since June 14-16 and have been almost unstoppable since.
“They were hot. But we’re not a bad team,” said Jarrod Saltalamacchia, who had a two-run homer, part of a 12-hit attack. “We know what we have to do. We just have to go out there and play the game. I don’t think we were happy with how the last few weeks have gone. We expect a lot more out of ourselves.”
The Red Sox were fortunate to miss Clayton Kershaw and Zack Greinke, the Dodgers’ two best starters. But the Sox had superb pitching all weekend and had a 1.17 earned run average on a 4-2 road trip.
The Dodgers hit .129 in the series and scored only five runs. Peavy gave up a home run to Adrian Gonzalez in the fourth inning and was otherwise barely touched. He retired the final nine batters in a row for his second complete game of the season.
That the series clincher came on the one-year anniversary of the cleansing trade of Gonzalez, Josh Beckett and Carl Crawford to the Dodgers made it all the sweeter for the Red Sox.
After the Dodgers won the first game of the series on Friday, Crawford said he wanted a sweep. He instead watched home runs by Saltalamacchia, Mike Napoli, and Shane Victorino sail over his head in left field.
A few notes:
• Napoli is 5 for 8 with four RBIs in the last two games. After being out of the lineup for a week with a sore left foot, he appears to shaken off the slump that has hampered him for the better part of two months.
• The Red Sox have won consecutive games for the first time since Aug. 6-7 at Houston and with Tampa Bay losing, they have a one-game lead in the American League East with 30 games to play. The Red Sox are off Monday and start a three-game series at Fenway Park against Baltimore on Tuesday.
• The Sox have a 13-5 record in interleague games and have outscored the NL teams by 66 runs.
• Victorino, booed all weekend, had a terrific overall game. He was 2 for 4 with a sacrifice at the plate and made several nice plays in right field.
Victorino refused interviews after the game because he was rushing to meet his family.
“We kicked their [butts], that’s it,” he said.
• The Sox were 9-10 in a stretch of games that saw them play 16 of 19 on the road in three time zones and two countries. They were a game up when it started and a game up when it ended.