LOS ANGELES (AP) — The Red Sox just can’t scratch out runs when John Lackey’s on the mound.
For the sixth time this season, they gave the right-hander no offensive support in losing 2-0 to the Los Angeles Dodgers on Friday night in the opener of the interleague series.
Lackey (8-11) tossed his first complete game in nearly four years, but was the tough-luck loser despite allowing just two runs and three hits.
“There’s typically one starter in the rotation that’s going to fall victim to less run support than the others, and he’s been the guy,” Boston manager John Farrell said. “We think he’s pitched better than the numbers might indicate — certainly the won-loss record. But that’s the way this game goes.”
Of Boston’s 10 shutout losses this season, Lackey has been on the mound for more than half of them.
“That’s about as good as I’ve felt this year. I had everything pretty much working for me. It’s frustrating when one pitch can decide a game,” he said.
Hanley Ramirez hit a two-run homer with two outs in the fourth, giving the Dodgers all the offense they needed for their fourth straight victory.
Ricky Nolasco scattered two hits over eight innings while dueling Lackey throughout Boston’s first visit to Dodger Stadium since 2002. Lackey struck out six and walked none.
“John had very good stuff and he had good location, for the most part,” Farrell said. “He has four pitches he threw for strikes, and when he was in a fastball count he showed a good sinker and they put the ball on the ground.”
The Red Sox lost for the sixth time in eight games and fell percentage points behind Tampa Bay in the AL East standings.
The Dodgers opened a 10 ½ game lead in the NL West, their biggest margin since holding the same lead on Sept. 28, 1977.
“You very rarely catch both teams as hot as they can be,” Boston’s Daniel Nava said. “We’re catching them as hot as they can be and we’re definitely not as hot as we can be. Hopefully, tomorrow that will be the start of that for us.”
The Red Sox had the tying runs at first and second with one out in the fifth, but Will Middlebrooks grounded into a double play to end the inning.
Nolasco (10-9) struck out six and walked none in tying his longest outing of the season. The right-hander reached double-digit victories for the sixth consecutive season, joining teammate Zack Greinke, Justin Verlander and CC Sabathia as the only pitchers to do so every year since 2008.
Nolasco is 5-1 in nine starts since being acquired from Miami.
Kenley Jansen pitched a perfect ninth to earn his 22nd save in 25 chances.
Ramirez sent a 1-2 pitch over the wall in center field, scoring Carl Crawford, who led off with a single and stole second. Jacoby Ellsbury climbed the wall while attempting to make the catch.
Crawford was part of the blockbuster, nine-player deal between the Red Sox and Dodgers last August. He had two hits against his old team. Los Angeles got Crawford, pitcher Josh Beckett, Adrian Gonzalez and Nick Punto in exchange for James Loney, Ivan DeJesus Jr., pitchers Allan Webster and Rubby De La Rosa, and Jerry Sands.
NOTES: Boston C Jarrod Saltalamacchia was hitless in three at-bats with a strikeout as his season-high nine-game hitting streak ended. … Lackey’s eight innings tied for his longest start of the season (July 2 against San Diego). … Boston fell to 2-2 on its West Coast trip, and remained winless in four games at Dodger Stadium. … Eight of Boston’s last 12 losses have been by two runs or less.