LOS ANGELES — Look out baseball, the Los Angeles Dodgers are streaking again.
And not even the American League East-leading Boston Red Sox could stop them Friday on a picturesque night in Tinseltown.
Back home after winning five of seven games on a short trip east, the Dodgers got another productive night from starter Ricky Nolasco and one big blast from Hanley Ramirez to beat the Boston Red Sox 2-0 at Dodger Stadium.
That’s five straight victories for the again-surging Dodgers, who moved a season-high 24 games above .500. They are 19-3 in August and 29-5 since the All-Star break
Nolasco went eight innings, giving up two hits with six strikeouts for his 10th win of the season.
Kenley Jansen pitched the ninth for his 22nd save — converting his 15th straight opportunity — with a 1-2-3 inning.
Carl Crawford and Ramirez both had two hits, with Ramirez’s two-run blast off Boston starter John Lackey the difference in the game.
Lackey didn’t pitch poorly, but with the way the Dodgers are clicking in all areas, all it took was one bad pitch and he was doomed.
Lackey went eight innings and gave up three hits while striking out six — the problem being one of those hits was a two-run homer.
Lackey was coasting through the first three innings, but the Dodgers got to him in the fourth when Crawford led off with a single and Ramirez drove fastball over the center-field fence to put the Dodgers up 2-0. It was the 13th home run of the year for Ramirez.
Lackey pitched effectively but got little help from a Red Six offense handcuffed by Nolsaco, who cruised through six innings while giving up just two hits while striking out five with no walks.
Rays 7, Yankees 2: ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. — In a series with major wild-card implications for both teams, the Tampa Bay Rays landed a strong first punch with a decisive 7-2 victory over the New York Yankees on Friday night.
The Yankees entered the game as one of baseball’s hottest teams, winning 10 of their last 12 games to move within 3 1/2 games of the Rays and a wild-card slot. Tampa Bay also had been playing well, winning six of their last eight after going winless on a six-game West Coast trip.
New York jumped on top in the first when an amped up Chris Archer walked Brett Gardner to lead off the game. Gardner then stole second and advanced to third on a Curtis Granderson fly ball. Archer managed to strike out Robinson Cano for the second out, but Alfonso Soriano fisted a ground-ball single down the first base line to score Gardner.
Archer settled down from that point on. The same can’t be said of New York starter Hiroki Kuroda, who entered the game with an 11-8 record and a 2.41 ERA.
Kuroda got through the first inning unscathed, but the Rays bats erupted in the second. Matt Joyce and Kelly Johnson singled and with two outs Jose Lobaton jumped on the first pitch he saw and launched a three-run shot to right.
The long ball barrage continued in the third inning with Evan Longoria and Joyce going back-to-back with two outs. Ben Zobrist joined the home-run parade in the fifth with the Rays fourth homer of the night.
Prior to Friday night’s shelling, Kuroda had given up just 12 homers on the season and none over his past eight starts. Kuroda’s seven earned runs on the night made it his worst start of the year and almost matched the eight earned runs he’d given up in his last eight starts combined.
Archer couldn’t quite match the two-hit shutout he tossed at Yankee Stadium earlier in the year, but he gave it a good go.
Gardner was responsible for both New York runs, tripling in the top of the sixth and scoring on a Cano grounder.
Archer never allowed more than one baserunner in any inning until the seventh when a Mark Reynolds walk and an Eduardo Nunez single had the Yankees threatening with two outs. Chris Stewart then hit an Archer fastball deep to left, but new Ray David DeJesus made a nice running catch to end the threat.
Jamey Wright and Roberto Hernandez finished off the last two innings without incident to secure the victory.
Orioles 9, Athletics 7: Brian Roberts hit a grand slam and Adam Jones homered and had three RBIs as host Baltimore outlasted Oakland in the opener of a three-game set.
Jones’ groundout in the seventh drove in the tiebreaking run and Nick Markakis added an RBI single as the Orioles pulled within two games of the Athletics for the American League’s second wild-card spot. Baltimore is five games behind first-place Boston in the AL East while Oakland trails AL West-leading Texas by three.
Francisco Rodriguez (2-0) struck out two in the seventh, Tommy Hunter pitched a scoreless eighth and Jim Johnson worked a flawless ninth for his first save since August 6 and 40th of the campaign. Ryan Cook (5-3) was charged with the loss.
Jones hit a two-run shot and Roberts belted the grand slam in a six-run fourth inning that erased Baltimore’s 3-0 deficit. Oakland tallied four times in the fifth on Jed Lowrie’s double, Josh Donaldson’s base hit and Eric Sogard’s two-run single to take a 7-6 advantage.
Baltimore starter Bud Norris allowed seven runs and nine hits in 4 2/3 innings, while Oakland’s Dan Straily gave up six runs and four hits in 3 1/3 frames. Athletics leadoff hitter Coco Crisp went 4-for-5 with a homer and Brandon Moss also went deep.