With a seven-game road trip against division rivals ready to begin on Monday, the Boston Red Sox try to close out their set against the visiting LA Angels on a positive note Sunday afternoon.
Boston, which has a three-game series against Tampa Bay and a four-game battle versus Baltimore coming up, is the only team in the American League with a winning percentage over .600, which is why it is tops in the AL East with a 1 1/2-game lead over the New York Yankees even after earning a split of a doubleheader on Saturday.
In the first matchup of the day, a three-run burst in the bottom of the ninth inning was not nearly enough for the Red Sox at Fenway Park as they dropped a 9-5 decision.
Mike Trout recorded three hits, a pair of doubles, and scored twice for the Angels in that contest, while Mark Trumbo and Erick Aybar both knocked in a pair of runs and Howie Kendrick scored twice.
Angels starter Tommy Hanson picked up his third win, permitting two runs on seven hits and four walks through five innings. Even though he recorded just a single out in the ninth, Ernesto Frieri was still credited with his 14th save.
Felix Doubront took the loss for the hosts, giving up three runs on six hits and two walks, but the appearance of Franklin Morales was even more damaging as he allowed four runs on just two hits and four walks, throwing a mere nine strikes on 30 pitches.
"I felt good," said Morales. "That's a good thing. I tried to do the best I can, but I lost the location and I missed."
Mike Carp registered three hits and matched Stephen Drew with two RBI in the setback for Boston.
The Red Sox redeemed themselves in the nightcap with a 7-2 victory that saw the team belt out 13 hits.
David Ortiz hit his 12th home run, while Jonny Gomes scored twice.
Clay Buchholz made it through 6 2/3 innings, allowing two runs on six hits and striking out four, but that was still more than enough to push his record to a perfect 9-0 and keep his ERA under two at 1.71.
C.J. Wilson lasted just five innings for the Angels as Boston posted eight hits and walked three times en route to four runs. Reliever Jerome Williams wasn't much better as he permitted another three runs on five hits over three innings.
"It's disappointing," said Wilson after putting his team in an early hole. "I felt like after winning the first game today, it would've been nice to get some momentum going. I just didn't get it going."
Of the seven hits logged by the visitors in the second game, three came from Kendrick, another two by Hank Conger, as the team lost for the sixth time in the last eight outings.
To this point the 2013 campaign has been a brutal experience for LA's Joe Blanton, but he's still hoping to turn it around, beginning with his start Sunday versus Boston.
The right-hander began the season 0-7 before capturing his first victory against Kansas City on the road, 5-4, back on May 23. Unfortunately, he has landed back in the loss column two more times since then, most recently against Houston on Monday.
Unfortunately, while Blanton pitched one of his best games of the year versus the Astros, allowing just two runs on three hits and striking out a season- high 11 over eight innings, the offense simply did not show up for the hurler in a 2-1 setback.
When it comes to facing off against the Red Sox, Blanton has often hurt himself by allowing Boston to hit .293 and belt 11 home runs in 65 2/3 innings, resulting in a 3-4 record over the years.
Ryan Dempster, now with his third club in as many seasons, counters for Boston today. The right-hander managed to snap a four-game slide on Tuesday when he was part of a 17-5 rout of Texas at home, marking his first victory in more than a month.
In that contest Dempster allowed just three runs on five hits and a walk, striking out six over seven innings, but still he is only 3-6 on the season overall.
For his career, one that began by being drafted by the Rangers in 1995, Dempster has a record of 0-2 with an inflated 11.20 ERA in three games versus the Angels.