BOSTON — Kevin Jepsen has been in the major leagues since 2007 and made 302 appearances for the Los Angeles Angels, all in relief.
Before Monday night, the right-hander accumulated just three saves, none since 2012.
Yet there he was, with closer Huston Street getting a rest, pitching in and out of trouble in the ninth inning as the Angels scored a 4-2 victory over the Boston Red Sox.
Los Angeles took over sole possession of first place in the AL West for the first time since Opening Day 2013.
Jepsen, making his 61st appearance of the season, entered with a 4-1 lead and gave up hits to the first two batters.
Designated hitter David Ortiz, representing the tying run at the plate, struck Ortiz out on a changeup. Jepsen got left fielder Yoenis Cespedes on a groundout that scored a run, then retired first baseman Mike Napoli on a flyout to end the game.
“It’s awesome,” Jepsen said. “Especially here, the crowd’s always into it here, no matter if they’re in first place or they’re struggling. They always play tough. Facing (second baseman Dustin) Pedroia, Ortiz, those guys never quit — so any time you get to come in here and face those guys, the atmosphere is awesome.”
Technically, the Angels, 7-2 in their past nine games at Fenway Park, led the idle Oakland Athletics by a percentage point coming in. They now hold a half-game lead, their first actual game advantage since winning last year’s opener.
Los Angeles visits Oakland this weekend, then hosts the A’s the following weekend.
Five Los Angeles pitchers combined on a nine-hitter.
The five pitchers stranded 12 as Boston went 1-for-14 with runners in scoring position.
Center fielder Mike Trout and designated hitter Albert Pujols stroked back-to-back RBI hits off hard-luck loser Brandon Workman in the third inning. Boston reliever Junichi Tazawa was guilty of a double error with the bases loaded in the eighth, good for two more runs.
Workman (1-7) dropped his seventh straight decision, six of them in starts, but he deserved better, yielding six hits and two runs in seven innings.
“With the exception of a two-out walk in the third and a couple of base hits to follow, he more than did his job tonight,” manager John Farrell said.
All-purpose player Brock Holt, playing right field, singled home the first Boston run in the fourth, one of his two hits.
Ortiz, who had two hits and two walks before his strikeout, shot a glare at Jepsen after fanning.
“He kinda looked out there,” Jepsen said. “I took it more as the battle. I had just as much fun battling you in this situation … watching him, you’ve seen him a ton of times come up in that situation and tie the game up for these guys. So just the battle in that situation, I thrive on that as well.”
Workman, who relieved in the 19th inning at Anaheim on Aug. 9 and served up a leadoff homer to Pujols, walked right fielder Kole Calhoun with two outs in the third. Trout, who snapped an 0-for-18 slump Sunday, drilled a long double to score Calhoun. Pujols followed with a single to deliver Trout.
Tazawa booted second baseman Howie Kendrick’s comebacker in the eighth, scrambled and hit a sliding Chris Iannetta with his throw home, the ball bouncing away to allow the other run to score.
“Unfortunately, what looked like a potential inning-ending double play turned into a couple of runs for them,” Farrell said.