LOS ANGELES -- The skeptics will say, "Yeah, but they didn’t face Kershaw or Greinke."
But the way the Boston Red Sox pitched this weekend -- and on their entire West Coast swing against the San Francisco Giants and Los Angeles Dodgers -- it may not have even mattered.
Even if the Dodgers had thrown their best, they would have been hard-pressed to match the Sox's starters, who gave up four earned runs in three games against L.A., six earned runs in six games on this swing, the “Survivor” leg of the Sox schedule concluding with an 8-1 win over the Dodgers.
The Red Sox took two of three from the Dodgers, who had not lost a series since mid-June against the Pirates, winning 14 and splitting four before dropping the rubber game of the three-game set against the Sox.
The Sox got home runs from Jarrod Saltalamacchia, Shane Victorino and Mike Napoli, the ninth-inning, 437-foot blast from Napoli off Brandon League impressing even the Hollywood crowd, which reacted audibly.
The Sox had seven extra-base hits in all and won the last two games here even with slugger David Ortiz on the bench. Boston had a dozen hits and scored more runs Sunday than the Dodgers had allowed since they gave up nine in a 10-9 win over the Blue Jays on July 23, a span of 31 games.
That had to come as a bitter disappointment to Carl Crawford, the former Sox outfielder who made no secret of his loathing for Boston before the series and declared he wanted to win “bad” against his former mates.
On Aug. 5, the Sox embarked on a 19-game stretch that began in Houston with an 11-day, 10-game trip, included a brief stopover at home for three games with the Yankees, and concluded here with three games against the Dodgers, the hottest team on the planet. The Sox began the stretch with a one-game lead over the Tampa Bay Rays; they return home to face the Baltimore Orioles on Tuesday night with that same one-game lead after playing just under break-even baseball (9-10).
Jake Peavy, who made a career out of throttling the Dodgers (13-2, 2.27 career ERA in 24 starts) when he played for the San Diego Padres, stayed true to form Sunday night, limiting the Dodgers to three hits and a run, which came on a home run by former Padres teammate Adrian Gonzalez, the first baseman going deep on the one-year anniversary of the trade that put him in Dodger Blue. Peavy pitched the team’s fourth complete game of the season and second this weekend, John Lackey going the distance in a 2-0 loss Friday night.
The Sox, who took a 4-0 lead in the first inning Saturday, scored first again Sunday, Napoli doubling home Victorino, who had doubled and taken third on Dustin Pedroia’s infield hit.
Jacoby Ellsbury, who had only one hit the entire weekend (1-for-14), made the most of his infield single in the third, stealing second and coming around on a sacrifice bunt by Victorino and a sacrifice fly by Pedroia. Rookie Xander Bogaerts, making his second big league start, doubled home a run in the fourth to make it 3-0 against Dodgers starter Chris Capuano, who departed after five.
Saltalamacchia hit a two-run home run, his 11th of the season, off reliever Chris Withrow in the sixth, and Victorino hit No. 9 off Withrow in the seventh to make it 6-1.