LOS ANGELES -- A well-pitched, low-scoring game in which the starting pitcher deserved a better fate than being tagged with another tough-luck loss.
John Lackey has seen his share already, thank you. Friday night was just the latest in a string of such games for Lackey in 2013. Lackey turned in his first complete game since joining the Red Sox four years ago, but it was an empty exercise in the end. Lackey made exactly one mistake, which was one more than his counterpart, Ricky Nolasco, made for the Los Angeles Dodgers in a 2-0 shutout for the streaking home team.
Lackey went eighth innings and gave up just two hits. Unfortunately for Lackey, the second one came two outs after the first one -- and it left the ballpark. Hanley Ramirez belted a two-run homer to right-center with former Red Sox outfielder Carl Crawford on base, accounting for the game's only two runs.
"All the way around, this was a well-pitched game on both sides,'' said John Farrell. "The 1-and-2 fastball to Ramirez was the difference in this one. But I thought he had very good stuff. You tip your hat to Ramirez, getting a decent pitch in a 1-and-2 count.''
"It's frustrating when one pitch can decide a game, for sure,'' said Lackey. "I felt really good. I pretty much had everything workingfor me tonight. For the most part, this season, I'm pretty happy with the way I've thrown the ball.''
Lackey is 8-11, having lost five of his last six decisions, but his ERA stands at a more-than-respectable 3.17.
But that was of little consolation for Lackey Friday night.
"I want to win the game,'' he said. "I didn't come here for ERA (titles); I came here to try to win a championship.''
"Typically,'' said Farrell, "there's going to be one of those guys in the rotation who's going to fall victim to less run support than others. He's been the guy.''
Five times in his last nine starts, Lackey has received no run support at all, with the Sox scoreless when he left the game.
The Sox came into the game knowing that the Dodgers were the hottest team in baseball, with 45 wins of the last 55 games and a 28-5 mark since the All-Star break.
"It definitely heightens the focus a little bit,'' said Lackey of playing a hot team. "You got to execute each pitch, take it a pitch at a time and try to minimize everything you can.''
Lackey just didn't do that quite as well as Nolasco, who allowed a two-out single to Dustin Pedroia in the first and then allowed just one more hit -- a one-out single to Stephen Drew in the fifth.
That threat, however, was erased when Will Middlebrooks hit into an inning-ending double play. The Sox never put another man on base after that.
"He kept pounding the strike zone,'' said Daniel Nava, "which, for any pitcher is a recipe for success. That's what he did. We executed our game plan and hit some balls hard, but right at guys.''
"He had four pitches he was throwing for strikes,'' said Farrell. "When he was in a fastball count, he showed a good sinker to put the ball on the ground. They made a couple of good defensive plays in the infield and he pitched well.''
Asked if Nolasco's outing was the best-pitched game by an opposing starter this year, Farrell didn't disagree.
"We've had some guys throw very well against us,'' said Farrell. "Whether it's been (Matt) Moore, or (David) Price, it's been from the left side. But this, from a righthander, was probably as good a start as we've seen against us. To his credit, he had very good stuff and good location, throughout.''
As well as Nolasco pitched, the Sox couldn't help but feel badly about wasting a solid outing by Lackey.
"We're getting good pitching,'' said Nava, "but to not go out there and get support for some guys who are putting some good efforts together is frustrating. We went through a stretch where we did this sort of thing and we came out of it, so I think everyone in this clubhouse believes we can come out of it), but it's frustrating that we haven't as of yet.''