Red Sox stay hot with win over Angels, 7-0

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Red Sox stay hot with win over Angels, 7-0

By SeanMcAdam
CSNNE.com

ANAHEIM, Calif. -- The same team which needed eight games before it posted its first road win of the season now, seemingly, can't lose away from home.

The Red Sox shut out the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim Sunday, 7-0, completing a sweep of their four-game series, during which they outscored the home team 20-5. The win was Boston's fifth in a row on the road after beginning the season 0-7.

Once more, strong starting pitching set the tone for the Red Sox. John Lackey beat his former team for the fourth time in four starts, limiting them to six hits over eight innings to even his record at 2-2.

Lackey, too, has enjoyed a turnaround to his young season. He was crushed for 15 runs in his first 8 23 innings, but over his last two outings, he's given up just one run in 14 innings.

The Sox pounced on Angels starter Matt Palmer in the first for three runs on run-scoring double from Adrian Gonzalez, an RBI-single by David Ortiz and a fielder's choice from Mike Cameron.

Carl Crawford cranked his first homer of the year in the sixth with Ortiz (balk) aboard. A sacrifice fly from Dustin Pedroia in the fifth and a run-scoring single by Gonzalez in the seventh closed out the scoring.

The four-game sweep here was the first for the Red Sox since June 12-15, 1980.

PLAYER OF THE GAME: John Lackey
Whether they meant it or not, the Red Sox apparently have John Lackey's attention.

Ever since Lackey's turn was skipped following a rainout, the Red Sox rotation has been on a roll and Lackey has turned things completely around. He tossed eight shutout innings Sunday, allowing just six hits while walking only one.

Lackey has now allowed just one run over his last 14 innings; in his first two starts combined, he was rocked for 15 runs in 8 23 innings.
HONORABLE MENTION: Adrian Gonzalez
Gonzalez had three hits and two RBI and is tied for the team lead with 12 RBI.

Gonzalez doubled home the first run of the game in the first inning, then singled home the fial one when he scored Marco Scutaro from second in the seventh inning.

GOAT OF THE GAME: (Tie) Torii Hunter and Vernon Wells

The two highly-paid veteran outfielders combined to go 0-for-5 as the Angels offense couldn't get untracked.

Hunter is hitting .102 over his last 13 games and Wells is at .169 for the season.

TURNING POINT
In the third inning, with the Red Sox leading 3-0, the Angels got two speedsters -- Peter Bourjos and Erick Aybar -- on base with no outs. But Lackey got Bobby Abreu to hit into a double-play and the Angels only got two more baserunners into scoring position the rest of the way.

BY THE NUMBERS: 0.88
Through the first 12 games, Red Sox starters had an ERA of 6.71; in the last nine, the ERA is 0.88.

QUOTE OF NOTE
"What's it look like?" -- John Lackey, when asked if being skipped in the Red Sox rotation has served as motivation in his last two starts.

Sean McAdam can be reached at smcadam@comcastsportsnet.com.Follow Sean on Twitter at http:twitter.comsean_mcadam

Backes doesn't back down from criticism of those who ripped Team USA

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Backes doesn't back down from criticism of those who ripped Team USA

BRIGHTON -- He may not get the chance, since he's now 32 and has thrown (and taken) plenty of hits during his 11-year NHL career, but new Bruin David Backes said he hopes to play for Team USA again to “have a nice taste in my mouth”.

Clearly, his last experience left a bad taste: The Americans finished dead last in the World Cup of Hockey, which is winding down now with Team Europe and Team Canada playing for the championship.

What also left a bad taste for Backes were the passive-aggressive Tweets sent out by U.S.-born players like Phil Kessel and Bobby Ryan after the Americans lost all three games they played in the World Cup. And he isn't about to back down from the pointed criticism he directed at them.

“I was one of the guys called upon to go to the rink on a day off after we were eliminated . . . . one of four to stand up and answer the questions,” said Backes, who certainly showed his personal accountability by showing up to answer questions after Team USA had flopped on the world stage. “Rather than defer and plead the Fifth, I thought it was something we needed to address. I think it’s easy to sit back and sling mud . . . when you’re not a part of it.

“[You can] kind of make yourself feel good about it (by criticizing Team USA) for a second, but if I wasn’t selected for the team, or if I’m not selected to the Olympic team in two years, I’m still American, I’ve still worn that jersey, and I’m going to root for those guys and hope everything goes well. If it doesn’t, I’m going to be crushed like I was on the team. That’s how I think as a team guy and as a guy that’s worn that jersey proudly and how much it means to me.

"I just hope and wish the other guys had those same feelings. If you’ve got some vindication not being on the team, and the team failing or not accomplishing the goal, then you should internalize that and use it as motivation going forward. You don’t need to join in with the chatter that’s negative and keeps piling on. Those are my visceral thoughts on the subject.”

Backes was a healthy scratch for Team USA’s final game against the Czech Republic, a listless defeat that dropped the U.S. to the bottom of the World Cup standings. That’s a bitter pill to swallow for a competitor who clearly understands the importance of representing one’s country.

So it’s no surprise the Bruins center hopes he gets a chance to redeem himself by making the 2018 Winter Olympics team. Backes has skated for the U.S. in each of the last two Olympics.

“I hope (the World Cup isn't the last time I play for my country), but that’s out of my control,” said Backes. “If my services seem like I can help a team be successful, I’d love to put that jersey on and have a nice taste in my mouth for the last time I use it, or the next time I use it. But there are a lot of great players that are Americans, and the next GM, or whoever it is constructing the team, will have decisions to make. Whoever they pick, I hope [the team] goes and puts us back on top of the pedestal for whatever competition it is.”

Clearly the Bruins hope that as well, since it would be a clear indicator Backes is performing at an elite level a couple of seasons into his five-year, big-money contract with Boston.

Report: Patriots fill open roster spot with former Browns DL Hughes

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Report: Patriots fill open roster spot with former Browns DL Hughes

The Patriots opened a roster spot by waiving defensive tackle Anthony Johnson, but they won't be adding a quarterback to take his place. 

According to Field Yates of ESPN, the team has swapped one defensive tackle for another by adding former Browns big man John Hughes, a 6-foot-2, 320-pounder who played under former assistant to the Patriots coaching staff Mike Lombardi when Lombardi was Cleveland's general manager in 2013. 

Hughes was released last week after spending just over four years with the team that drafted him in the third round in 2012. He signed a four-year extension with the Browns last season that was worth $12.8 million. 

With the Patriots, Hughes figures to work in as part of the rotation on the interior of the defensive line along with Malcom Brown, Alan Branch and rookie third-round pick Vincent Valentine. Unlike Johnson, who was more of a penetrating pass-rusher, Hughes should factor in as more of a space-eating type. He has 5.5 career sacks in 53 games. 

Johnson is the latest in a long line of Browns who played under Lombardi to end up in New England. The two most notable Patriots who spent 2013 in Cleveland are defensive end Jabaal Sheard and running back Dion Lewis. Linebacker Barkevious Mingo, who arrived in New England in a trade this summer, was drafted by Lombardi's front office as the No. 6 overall pick in 2013.