All-Star left-hander Hector Santiago survived a 31-pitch first inning and made it through five laborious innings, allowing one run and eight hits, walking one and equaling his career-high with 10 strikeouts to improve to 7-4 with a 2.30 earned-run average, third-best in the American League.
Santiago threw 114 pitches, 77 for strikes, and worked his way out of two jams, striking out David Ortiz and Hanley Ramirez with two on to end the first inning and whiffing Ryan Hanigan and Mookie Betts with the bases loaded to end the fourth.
Santiago has 108 strikeouts and 35 walks and has held opponents to a .153 average (11 for 72) with runners in scoring position this season.
Erick Aybar sparked the second-inning rally with a single to left field off Red Sox starter Eduardo Rodriguez and took second on C.J. Cron’s one-out walk. Chris Iannetta singled to left to score Aybar.
Daniel Robertson followed with a first-pitch, run-scoring double over the head of Ramirez, the Boston left fielder who misplayed the ball badly. Johnny Giavotella hit a first-pitch, two-run single to center, and Kole Calhoun hit a first-pitch, two-run homer to right-center for a 6-0 lead.
Mike Trout’s two-pitch at-bat resulted in a line-out to third base, but Albert Pujols drove a 1-and-0 pitch over the wall in left-center for his 27th homer of the season and 547th of his career, moving the Angels slugger to within one of Mike Schmidt for 15th place on baseball’s all-time list.
The homer, which gave the Angels a 7-0 lead, was also Pujols’ 1,136th extra-base hit, tying him for 12th place with Ty Cobb on the all-time list.
The Red Sox snapped a 21-inning scoreless streak to start their four-game series in Anaheim when Ortiz and Pablo Sandoval singled in the top of the fourth, and Mike Napoli hit an RBI single to center to make it 7-1.
But Sandoval’s fielding error at third base paved the way for the Angels to score four unearned runs off reliever Noe Ramirez in the bottom of the fourth. Aybar hit an RBI single and David Freese crushed a three-run homer to center that traveled an estimated 452 feet, the second-longest of his career.
The Angels, who have won 14 of 17 games and are 10-3 in July, can complete a four-game sweep of the Red Sox with a win in the second game Monday night.
Calhoun also walked and scored in the fourth and is batting .360 (18 for 50) with five homers, five doubles and 15 runs batted in over his last 12 games. Aybar, who had two hits and two runs, is batting .435 (20 for 46) over his last 12 games and .400 (34 for 85) since June 19.