Los Angeles, CA – Hanley Ramirez cracked a two-run homer to back eight flawless innings from Ricky Nolasco, and the Los Angeles Dodgers took a 2-0 win in the opener of a three-game set with the Boston Red Sox.
Nearly a year ago, the two clubs agreed to one of the biggest waiver wire deals in MLB history and met each other for the first time since.
In the midst of a disappointing season, the Red Sox shed more than $250 million of payroll by shipping first baseman Adrian Gonzalez, outfielder Carl Crawford, pitcher Josh Beckett and infielder Nick Punto to the Dodgers.
Los Angeles mustered only three hits, with Crawford accounting for two of them, but Nolasco (10-9) held the Sox to just two hits while striking out six. Kenley Jansen finished off the impressive outing, setting the Red Sox down in order in the ninth for his 22nd save.
"I felt good tonight, I had good tempo and good rhythm," said Nolasco. "I tried to stay focused. I just tried to match (Boston starter) John (Lackey) and he made just one mistake. My fastball and slider were good, throwing strikes was the key."
John Lackey (8-11) was once again a hard-luck loser, pitching all eight innings for Boston, which with the loss, fell into a tie atop the AL East with the Tampa Bay Rays.
Lackey's only blemish occurred in the fourth inning, when Ramirez reached him for a two-run shot over the wall in center field. He went on to retire 13 of the last 14 batters he faced, but for the sixth time this season, his offense failed to score a run for him.
"As right-handers go, that was about as good as we have seen against us," said Boston manager John Farrell. "One starter falls victim to less run support, and John has been that guy."
Boston's best chance to score off Nolasco was in the fifth. Daniel Nava was hit by a pitch and Stephen Drew came through with a single, but Nolasco got the red-hot Will Middlebrooks to ground into an inning-ending double play.
Middlebrooks entered batting .441 with seven RBI in 11 games since being recalled from Triple-A Pawtucket, but was 0-for-3 on the night.
In last August's trade, the Red Sox received first baseman James Loney, shortstop Ivan DeJesus, Jr., outfielder Jerry Sands and pitcher Rubby De La Rosa, but only the latter still remains with the team.
The Dodgers are 10 1/2 games ahead of Arizona in the NL West. It marks the first time Los Angeles has held a double-digit divisional lead since finishing the 1977 season 10 games ahead of the Reds in the NL West ... Boston fell to 11-5 in interleague play ... Dustin Pedroia had the only other Red Sox hit.