BOSTON — John Lackey focused on the opposing hitters, not their uniforms.
Facing his former team for the first time, Lackey pitched two-hit ball for seven innings and the Boston Red Sox sent the Los Angeles Angels to their sixth straight loss, 3-1 Wednesday night.
“Honestly, it was different facing the jersey, but there’s not a whole lot of guys in the lineup that I played with for an extended period of time,” Lackey said.
“They know how I am between the lines,” he said. “It’s all business out there. We can be friends off the field.”
It was Boston’s third straight win over the Angels, who have lost the first six games on a 10-game road trip. It’s the first time the Angels have opened May at 0-5 in team history.
Lackey (3-1) left the Angels in the offseason and signed an $82.5 million, five-year contract with Boston. He posted the Angels’ highest winning percentage in team history, at 102-71.
“Early on he was definitely throwing a lot harder than I remember,” Angels center fielder Torii Hunter said. “He was a little pumped up, of course. He knew where the strike zone was and he stayed right there. That’s what Lackey does best.”
Adrian Beltre homered and drove in two runs for the Red Sox. Brandon Wood hit a solo homer off Lackey.
The Red Sox can complete the four-game sweep when Daisuke Matsuzaka faces Scott Kazmir on Thursday night.
Lackey played for the organization from 2002-2009 and was the first rookie to win Game 7 of a World Series since 1909, getting the victory when the Angels beat San Francisco in the 2002 decisive game.
“We know what John does,” said Angels manager Mike Scioscia, who managed Lackey’s rookie season. “He does it very well. I don’t think there were any surprises out there.”
The righthander got 12 of 14 outs on grounders as he cruised through the middle innings. He walked two and struck out four overall, allowing Kendry Morales’ single leading off the second as the only other hit.
“The way we’re going everyone looks like Cy Young,” Hunter said.
Daniel Bard pitched a perfect eighth before Jonathan Papelbon worked the ninth for his eighth save.
Boston (14-14) reached .500 after losing three straight last weekend against the Baltimore Orioles.
“When you get good pitching it makes you look crisp,” Red Sox manager Terry Francona said. “We played a good game. Lackey got the ball on the ground and we made the plays.”
Ortiz, back in the lineup as the DH despite an 0 for 4 game on Tuesday with two strikeouts and two double-play grounders, homered into the Green Monster seats against Joel Pineiro (2-4) to give Boston a 2-0 lead in the fourth. The struggling slugger entered hitting just .149.
It was the third career homer Ortiz hit against Pineiro.
“I guess the one big mistake was the change up to Papi,” Pineiro said. “He’s done that here a lot. He just throws the bat out there and he’s got the power to get it out there.”
Wood homered into the first row of the Monster seats in the fifth.
Beltre made it 3-1 against Brian Fuentes in the eighth.
The Red Sox had taken a 1-0 lead in the second when Beltre’s bouncer down the third-base line hit the bag and rolled into short left for a single, scoring J.D. Drew from second.
Los Angeles left fielder Hideki Matsui threw out Marco Scutaro at the plate, trying to score on Kevin Youkilis’ seventh-inning single.
The Angels came very close to turning a triple play in the second. With runners on first and second, Jeremy Hermida lined to Pineiro, who fired to second, doubling off Ortiz. Beltre barely slid into first safely ahead of shortstop Erick Aybar’s throw and Scioscia came out to argue the play.
NOTES: Francona (579-421) managed his 1000th game with the Red Sox, fourth-most in club history. Joe Cronin leads with 2,007. … Beltre used some quick footwork at 3B, jumping to avoid a broken bat after firing to second to start a double play on Hunter’s grounder in the third. … Boston LHP Alan Embree, designated for assigned on Saturday, cleared waivers and elected for free agency. … The Red Sox honored former SS Nomar Garciaparra with an on-field ceremony before the game. … Scioscia said before the game that Matsui was unlikely to play the outfield for consecutive games.