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Sunday, June 9, 2013
Rapid Reaction: Red Sox 10, Angels 5

By Tony Lee, Special to ESPNBoston.com



BOSTON -- The power went out for several hours in the Back Bay near Fenway Park early Sunday morning, creating a headache for residents, business owners and motorists. It was definitely on at the park a few hours later, creating a headache for the Los Angeles Angels.

Jarrod Saltalamacchia homered twice and David Ortiz and Mike Carp both went deep to back Ryan Dempster and four relievers as the Boston Red Sox posted a 10-5 victory over the Angels, who also hit a pair of home runs. The Sox improved to 4-0-2 in their last six series and moved to 14 games above .500 for the first time since they finished the 2011 season at 90-72.

Apologies for the easiest “power” pun of all time. Once you’ve finished rolling your eyes, take in a few more tidbits from the afternoon at Fenway.

Needs more Salt: Both of Saltalamacchia’s home runs were bombs to center, a solo shot in the sixth and a three-run job in the seventh that made it 10-3. It was his fourth career multihomer game and continues a nice resurgence at the plate that began after early-May whispers that the organization was toying with the idea of shopping their starting catcher.

In 26 games since May 6, Saltalamacchia is 28-for-88 (.318) with five home runs and 17 RBIs. Backup David Ross is 3-for-21 with 12 strikeouts and a stint on the 7-day concussion DL in that same span.

Oh, you again: Dempster pitched in 535 games before ever facing the Angels, but he has seen them four times in his last 25 starts since being traded from the Chicago Cubs to Texas last season. Los Angeles hitters acted as if they were waiting for Dempster all those years, hammering him in those three encounters when he was with the Rangers.

Dempster was better on Sunday, allowing three runs in six innings. He took some lumps against a still-dangerous Angels lineup, but both of their home runs were solo shots and Dempster wiggled out of a jam or two before ending a 110-pitch afternoon on a good note by striking out two in a 1-2-3 sixth.

The fifth of Dempster’s six Ks was the 2,000th of his career. After three starts in which he gave up 15 runs in 12 2/3 innings, he has yielded eight runs in 20 frames over his last three outings.

King Albert: One of the Angels hitters who has enjoyed his time spent with Dempster is Albert Pujols, who had plenty of meetings with the Red Sox righty while in the National League. After hammering an opposite-field homer in the top of the first, Pujols was batting .356 (21-for-59) with eight homers against Dempster.

So when Dempster drilled Pujols with an 0-1 fastball with a base open in the third, he drew the requisite deep stare from Pujols, who had to at least wonder what the intent was. Dempster seemingly never even glanced at Pujols as the big slugger glared toward the mound, instead holding his glove up to get a new ball.

There were no further issues, but perhaps it will be recalled if Dempster pitches when the teams meet July 5-7 in Anaheim. At the very least, he will remember that Pujols has his number.

Lucky No. 13: With singles in the second and third innings respectively, Jose Iglesias and Dustin Pedroia both extended their hit streaks to 13 games. They are a combined 37-for-97 (.381) in that stretch, which began in their first at-bats of a win over Philadelphia on May 27.

In keeping with that theme, Ortiz’s homer was his 13th of the season, and Jacoby Ellsbury (RBI triple in the fourth) extended his streak of getting on base to 13 games. Dempster made his 13th start of the year. The Sox improved to 13-6 in day games, 13-21 in games when the opponent scores first and 24-13 when hitting at least one home run. Sunday marked the 13th straight day that Boston, which entered 13 games above .500, was in first place. It is 13-6-2 in 21 series this year, which is 2013. But you knew that last part.

Moving on up: Ortiz’s three-run shot gave him 414 career homers, tying him with Darrell Evans for 48th on the all-time list. Next on the non-active list is Hall of Famer Billy Williams with 426. Adam Dunn of the Chicago White Sox has 420 and counting.

Speaking of homers: Saltalamacchia and Carp went deep on consecutive pitches by Angels starter Joe Blanton in the sixth inning, both sending shots into the center-field bleachers. Blanton was then removed, taking with him the sting of having a start end in such painful fashion. As the pitching change was being made, he glared into the buzzing Red Sox dugout for several seconds. One could speculate that he was upset with a comment or maybe the way someone celebrated the back-to-back jacks, but Blanton was probably searching in vain for some sort of an answer. He fell to 1-10 on the year.

Bad Angels: The fact that Blanton, who has a 5.87 ERA, gets regular turns in the rotation speaks to one of the issues the Angels have. But there are others. They rank among the worst defensive clubs in baseball and committed two bad errors Sunday to support that argument. And Los Angeles has shown a tendency to stumble on the bases, as it did in the eighth when J.B. Shuck was caught rounding second base too far and tagged out trying to retreat after a Mike Trout base hit.

The Angels already had scored two runs in the inning to get to within 10-5 and would have had the bases loaded for Josh Hamilton if Shuck had not ventured too far. He thought Chris Iannetta, the runner ahead of him, was going to be waved home and figured he’d move into third behind him, but those 90 feet mean nothing when you’re down five with four outs to play with.

Perhaps Iannetta would have scored easily and the blame can be placed elsewhere. Either way, that mistake essentially ended Los Angeles’ chances.

On the road again. And again. And again: The Sox have now played 35 home games, most in the American League. Beginning with Monday night’s series opener in Tampa Bay, they will be on the road for 40 of their next 68 games, a stretch that lasts into the final week of August. The fact they are 18-11 away from home takes away some of the sting, but there will be some tests along the way.

In addition, the next 16 games are against teams currently above .500, 11 of those on the road.