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Palmer makes it 5th straight for Angels

STARTING pitcher Matt Palmer retired the last 19 batters he faced to help the Los Angeles Angels defeat the Boston Red Sox 8-4 on Wednesday.

In just the seventh start of his career, the 30-year-old threw 6 2/3 perfect final innings in a complete game to improve to 4-0 for the season as the Angels won their fifth game in six.

"I didn't want to disappoint my team and all the guys behind me," Palmer told reporters.

"I wanted to go as strong as I could for as long as I could. I enjoy being here and pitching the way that I do."

Los Angeles overcame a 0-4 deficit with a five-run third inning powered by Mike Napoli's three-run homer.

Torii Hunter blasted his team-leading ninth home run of the season in the fourth and finished 2-for-4 with three runs scored.

Boston starter Tim Wakefield's struggles continued with his sixth straight loss on the road against Los Angeles. The veteran knuckle-baller allowed 11 hits and seven runs in 4 2/3 innings.

Red Sox outfielder Jason Bay belted a two-run homer to left field in the first inning as Boston shocked Palmer with four early runs.

However, the right-hander settled down to throw 109 pitches while striking out eight batters. Palmer's outing was the latest in a string of strong starts for the Angels' starters, who have recorded three complete games in the last six contests.

"The one question mark we had in our rotation was the length they were giving us," Angels manager Mike Scioscia said. "These guys came out and said 'we're going to get deeper in the game.' I think (Palmer) answered a lot of questions. He finished as strong as he started."

The Los Angeles pitching staff can breathe easier as Ervin Santana makes his season debut after recovering from a sprained elbow, while John Lackey makes his first start of the year on Saturday on his return from an arm injury.

Boston was without injured top hitters Kevin Youkilis (abdomen) and reigning American League MVP Dustin Pedroia, who missed his second straight contest.

Second series

In Cleveland, Cliff Lee outpitched Mark Buehrle, throwing seven innings for the Cleveland Indians to beat the Chicago White Sox 4-0 and take two of three games in the American League series.

It was the second series the last-place Indians have won this year, and the first since they took two of three from Kansas City at home from April 21-23.

Cleveland had not shut out an opponent since Lee did it with a complete game against the White Sox on September 1.

Victor Martinez homered on Buehrle's seventh pitch of the game, and Ryan Garko added a two-run blast in the fourth to give Lee (2-5) his first victory in nearly a month.

Buehrle (5-1) lost for the first time since Sept. 24 last year.

Elsewhere, it was: Yankees 8, Blue Jays 2; Rays 8, Orioles 6; Rangers 6, Mariners 5, 11 innings; Athletics 7, Royals 2; and Twins 14, Tigers 10, 13 innings.

In Philadelphia, Los Angeles pitcher Randy Wolf dominated his former team as the Dodgers beat the Philadelphia Phillies 9-2 in the National League.

In a meeting of the league-leading Dodgers and the reigning World Series champions, James Loney homered and drove in four runs for Los Angeles.

Also, it was: Brewers 8, Marlins 6; Braves 8, Mets 7, 12 innings; Pirates 5, Cardinals 2; Reds 10, Diamondbacks 3; Cubs 6, Padres 4, 7-1/2 innings; Nationals 6, Giants 3; and Astros 15, Rockies 11.


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