ANAHEIM, Calif. — It has been four years since John Lackey last pitched for the Los Angeles Angels. But there are still close ties, particularly his friendship with Jered Weaver.
Lackey was the Angels’ ace when Weaver broke into the majors in 2006 and the two quickly bonded, the rookie asking the veteran for advice about all aspects of pitching.
On Friday, when Weaver and his wife, Kristin, had their first child, he called Lackey to give him the news.
“That’s my boy,” Lackey said. “Talked to him the other day. I mean, he hooked me up with the shoes I’m wearing. He’s become a great pitcher in the league. It’s fun to watch.”
Lackey and Weaver faced each other Sunday night and both pitched well. But Weaver was a little better as the Angels beat the Red Sox, 3-0.
Weaver went 6⅔ innings, giving up five hits. He walked two and struck out six. Lackey went seven innings and also gave up five hits — but two were solo home runs by Mike Trout and Hank Conger.
Lackey walked one, struck out nine, and threw 116 pitches, his most this season.
“Just one of those deals. Weave pitched really good. It’s tough.” Lackey said.
The Red Sox lost two of three games in the series. On Saturday, they allowed four runs in the ninth inning before losing, 9-7, in 11 innings.
The Sox have lost eight of their last 11 games on the road. They start a four-game series at Seattle on Monday night, then play three games at Oakland before the All-Star break.
Jon Lester, who flew ahead of the team, opposes Felix Hernandez Monday night at Safeco Field.
Facing King Felix will not help an offense that has gone 12 innings without scoring. The Sox were 1 for 9 with runners in scoring position on Sunday and left seven men on base.
It was the first time the Sox were shut out since June 14.
Lackey has pitched far better than his 6-6 record would indicate. He has a 2.80 earned run average and 88 strikeouts over 93⅓ innings.
Lackey has gone at least seven innings in each of his last five starts. He also has a 2.29 ERA in his last 10 along with a 1.02 WHIP. After starting the season as the fifth starter, Lackey is now the most reliable member of the rotation.
“John’s pitching as well as he has, I think, than any point in time in his career,” Sox manager John Farrell said. “Not to shortchange anything he’s done early on, but he’s in a very good place right now.”
Lackey agreed with that assessment.
“Probably the best first half I’ve had,” he said. “Some things have been frustrating. But it is what it is.”
Lackey was recovering from elbow surgery and missed last season, so he faced Trout for the first time in his career in the first inning. He threw the 21-year-old All-Star a 95-mile-per-hour fastball on the outside corner of the plate and was surprised to see it go over the fence in right-center.
“Pretty good hitter made a pretty good swing,” Lackey said.
Conger’s homer came on a high slider in the fifth inning. That pitch, Lackey said, was the only one he regretted.
In three starts against the Angels in Anaheim, Lackey has allowed four earned runs on 18 hits over 22⅓ innings and struck out 19. He won the first two games but could not overcome Weaver.
“There’s no animosity or anything like that,” Lackey said. “I had a great time here when I played here. Just trying to win a ballgame.”
Lackey left trailing, 2-0. Junichi Tazawa, who looks beaten down by a heavy workload, gave up a run in the eighth inning as Erick Aybar tripled and scored on a sacrifice fly by J.B. Shuck.
The first inning, as it turned out, was the best shot the Sox had to score against Weaver.
Jacoby Ellsbury hit the second pitch of the game on a line to left field. It should have been caught but sailed over the head of Shuck, who misread the flight of the ball in the twilight.
Ellsbury was credited with a double, which extended his hitting streak to 17 games.
Daniel Nava followed with a single to right field. But with runners on the corners and no outs, Weaver got out of the inning.
Dustin Pedroia lined to third base before David Ortiz and Mike Napoli struck out swinging.
“Weaver’s tough. He made some pitches when he had to,” Pedroia said. “It was tough to see early on and he took advantage of that.”
Ryan Lavarnway reached on an infield single with one out in the second inning and advanced to second when Brock Holt grounded out. The inning ended when Jose Iglesias grounded to third base.
The Sox had another chance in the seventh inning. Napoli started the inning with a soft single to right field. Holt then singled to right with two outs.
With Weaver at 114 pitches, his most this season, Angels manager Mike Scioscia went to righthander Dane De La Rosa. Iglesias took a strike before popping up to right field to end the inning.
Iglesias was 2 for 11 in the series and is hitting .395. Remarkably, it’s his first time under .400 in 45 games this season.
The Sox had one last shot in the ninth inning when Ortiz reached on a two-base error by first baseman Mark Trumbo. But Ernesto Frieri struck out Napoli, Mike Carp, and Lavarnway to end the game.Peter Abraham can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter @PeteAbe.