By Sean McAdam
ANAHEIM, Calif. -- The offense is still in stuck in first gear, but the Red Sox' starting pitching continues to hum along quite nicely.
Jon Lester tossed six shutout innings as the Red Sox beat the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim, 4-3, Friday night, for their third consecutive victory.
Since last Saturday, the Sox are 6-1. In that span, the starters have a collective 1.17 ERA, with no starter allowing more than two runs in an outing.
The Red Sox had just five hits on the night, but bunched together a few and got some help from the Angels' porous defense.
Jacoby Ellsbury doubled home Jarrod Saltalamachia in the third for the first run. A fly ball that dropped between Torii Hunter and Peter Bourjos produced two more in the fourth.
Vernon Wells boxed around Jed Lowrie's leadoff double in the seventh, sending Lowrie to third, from where he scored on J.D. Drew's single to center.
The Angels broke through off Matt Albers in the seventh with a run on two broken-bat hits, then scored twice off Bobby Jenks in the eighth, with Saltalamacchia allowing a passed ball that enabled Bobby Abreu to score all the way from second.
Jonathan Papelbon settled things down in the ninth for his fifth save.
STAR OF THE GAME: Jon Lester.
Lester wasn't particularly efficient (111 pitches in just six innings), but there's no arguing with the results. He allowed just four hits and walked two while fanning eight.
After a rough start on Opening Day, Lester has now allowed just four earned runs in his last four starts.
Now 2-1 with an ERA of 2.59 and just one start this month remaining, it's safe to say that Lester's April troubles are over.
HONORABLE MENTION: J.D. Drew
Drew, who has hit leadoff the previous two games, was returned to the middle of the order (sixth) and responded with a double in the fourth that helped key the two-run inning, then added a run-scoring single in the sixth.
In four plate appearances, Drew reached base three times with a run scored and an RBI.
GOAT OF THE GAME: Jarrod Saltalamacchia.
Saltalamachia had another rough night behind the plate as the Angels swiped three bases and Red Sox pitchers were charged with two wild pitches on balls that Saltalamacchia got his glove on.
Worse, Saltalamachia allowed a 2-seamer from Bobby Jenks to go between his legs in the eighth inning, then couldn't find the ball, allowing Bobby Abreu to score all the way from second base.
TURNING POINT: In the second inning, with the Angels threatening (first and second, one out), second baseman Dustin Pedroia made a terrific double play by swiping a tag on baserunner Alberto Callaspo, then firing to first for an inning-ending rally-killer.
BY THE NUMBERS: 1.17 -- the ERA of Red Sox starters since Saturday, during which they've gone 6-1.
QUOTE OF NOTE: "A little bit. I think that's fair to say,'' -- Terry Francona on whether catcher Jarrod Saltalamachia is fighting himself behind the plate.