BOSTON —Rookie right-hander Matt Shoemaker had more on his mind than just the Boston Red Sox when he took the Fenway Park mound Thursday night.
While he was clearly concerned with the game at hand, he was also thinking about teammate Garrett Richards, lost for the rest of the season with a torn left patellar tendon he suffered a day earlier.
“Up until game time, it was really heavy on my mind,” Shoemaker said. “During the game, I was trying to focus on pitching, which I think was a good thing because that’s what ‘G’ does.
Shoemaker, continuing his strong first year, flirted with a no-hitter in leading the Los Angeles Angels to a 2-0 win and a sweep of the four-game series.
“One word — sensational,” said Angels manager Mike Scioscia after Shoemaker lost a no-hit bid with two out in the seventh — the only hit he gave up in 7 2/3 innings.
Shoemaker, the fifth pitcher to take a no-hitter into the seventh inning against the last-place Red Sox this season, hit the first batter of the game. He then struck out the next three and retired 20 in a row before third baseman Will Middlebrooks doubled with two outs in the seventh.
“I threw a split. It was supposed to be down,” said Shoemaker, who said he wasn’t aware of a no-hitter “until about the fifth or the sixth.
“It was probably thigh to belt high, middle in, he said. “He just roped it down the line. Definitely just an unfortunate pitch, given the circumstances.”
Middlebrooks sat out Wednesday’s game and didn’t start Thursday due to a tight hamstring. He came on in the fourth inning when left fielder Yoenis Cespedes exited for what Red Sox manager John Farrell called “a family medical emergency.”
“As a guy on the bench you start getting loose around the sixth inning for a possible pinch hit, maybe the seventh, eighth, ninth innings,” said Middlebrooks, who grabbed at the back of his leg going into second base but said he was able to play. “In the third it was kind of out of nowhere. I just had to try to get as loose as I could and get out there and try and help us win.”
Shoemaker (12-4) threw a career-high 116 pitches, walked one and struck out nine. Mike Morin ended the eighth with a strikeout, and Jason Grilli pitched a perfect ninth for his 12th save, his first with the Angels, capping the combined one-hitter.
The win completed Los Angeles’ second four-game sweep at Fenway Park (the other was in 1962) and increased the Angels’ lead in the American League West to two games over the idle Oakland Athletics. The teams open a three-game series in Oakland on Friday night, then play four games in Anaheim the following weekend.
Shoemaker pitched three hitless innings of relief to win a 19-inning game against the Red Sox in Anaheim on Aug. 9, so he had thrown 9 2/3 consecutive hitless frames against Boston before Middlebrooks lined his hit down the left field line.
“We couldn’t get anything going against him,” said Farrell. “He’s been very consistent for them. In addition to the extra-inning game out in Anaheim, he’s pitched very well against us.”
Angels first baseman Albert Pujols and manager Mike Scioscia were both ejected from the game by plate umpire Andy Fletcher after arguing balls and strikes in sixth inning.
The Angels, who got confirmation earlier in the day that Richards will undergo season-ending surgery friday, are 6-1 on their current road trip and have won eight of their past nine. The Angels (76-50) have also won 10 of their last 12 at Fenway and 16 of their last 21 against the Red Sox overall.
Los Angeles designated hitter Josh Hamilton continuing his climb out of a slump, doubled home a first-inning run against right-hander Rubby de La Rosa (4-5). Right fielder Kole Calhoun added a seventh-inning sacrifice fly.
Shortstop Erick Aybar went 3-for-4 and was robbed of another hit, stole a base and scored the second run.
De La Rosa pitched well, allowing two runs and eight hits in 6 2/3 innings. The Red Sox (56-71) lost their fifth straight and fell to a season-worst 15 games under .500.