Win streak ends as Boston pulls starter for 2nd straight game

BOSTON (AP) -- The pop is back in the Angels' lineup after last year's power shortage.

Casey Kotchman and Gary Matthews Jr. added to it Wednesday night.

Kotchman's solo home run put Los Angeles ahead in the sixth inning, Matthews hit two solo homers of his own and the Angels snapped the Boston Red Sox's six-game winning streak with a 6-4 victory.

"It's good to see the home runs tonight, but we're definitely not going to sit back and just rely on batter's box offense," Los Angeles manager Mike Scioscia said. "Against good pitching, you might not get those mistakes and you might not get the chance to drive the ball."

The Angels didn't face Boston's best two starters in the first two games of the series. Josh Beckett was scratched from Tuesday night's 7-6 Red Sox win with a stiff neck and flulike symptoms. Those symptoms also forced the Daisuke Matsuzaka from Wednesday's start. Jon Lester pitched on three days' rest.

"We're fighting this as it comes," manager Terry Francona said of the spreading illness. "It seems to grab somebody different every day."

The Angels had the third-fewest homers in the AL last year with 123. They entered Wednesday's game ranked fourth in the league with 22.

Kotchman, who hit only 11 homers in 135 games in his first full season, already has six.

"The biggest difference is the younger guys have a year of experience," Matthews said. "As they gain experience, they get to know the pitchers better."

Kotchman homered off Craig Hansen (0-1). Hansen was recalled before the game, then sent back to Triple-A Pawtucket afterward when the Red Sox called up Justin Masterson from Double-A Portland to start Thursday.

"Once I let [the pitch] go, I knew I was guiding it," Hansen said. "And when you guide stuff, that's when you get hurt."

Matthews hit solo shots in the first and fifth off Lester, who volunteered to pitch, giving him four homers this season and 100 for his career.

"You can definitely tell the difference" without normal rest, Lester said. "It just wasn't the right intensity and didn't feel right from the beginning."

But Francona was impressed with his desire to step in.

"I don't think he was happy with the results because we didn't win," Francona said, "but he gave us five innings."

Boston lost for just the third time in its 12 home games.

Trailing 4-2 in the bottom of the fifth, the Red Sox tied it on David Ortiz's third homer, a two-run shot after Dustin Pedroia extended his hitting streak to 12 games with a single. But Boston's streak of scoring at least five runs in 10 straight games ended.

Torii Hunter added an RBI double in the ninth, and Francisco Rodriguez picked up his eighth save with a perfect inning as the bullpen finished with three scoreless innings.

In the eighth, Scot Shields got rookie Jed Lowrie to hit into an inning-ending double play with runners at first and second.

"I don't know too much about him, but I was just trying to get him to hit it on the ground," Shields said. "With the infielders we have out there, you make them hit it on the ground [and] for the most part they're going to make that double play."

Jon Garland (3-2) allowed four runs in six innings and got out of a jam in the third when he retired the last two batters after Boston scored once and had runners at first and second with one out.

Matthews homered in the first, Maicer Izturis doubled in a run in the second and Erick Aybar hit an RBI single in the third, giving the Angels a 3-1 lead.

For Boston, Julio Lugo singled in a run in the second, his seventh hit in nine at-bats, and Pedroia cut the lead to 3-2 with a sacrifice fly in the third.

Matthews led off the fifth against Lester with his second homer, both batting right-handed. Only three of his 18 homers were from the right side last year when he had shoulder problems.

"Last year was really tough," Matthews said. "It was just a matter of being healthy."

Julio Lugo kept Lester from getting into more trouble with good plays at shortstop in each of the first five innings.

Game notes
The Red Sox had a sellout for the 400th straight home game with a crowd of 38,172. Only Cleveland's streak of 455 consecutive sellouts is longer in major league history. ... Boston's top four draft choices from 2005 were all on the major league team: Hansen, Lowrie, Clay Buchholz and Jacoby Ellsbury, until Hansen was sent down. ... For Boston, Jason Varitek missed his fourth straight game with flulike symptoms and Kevin Youkilis sat out with a lower back injury.