LOS ANGELES (AP) — One mistake by John Lackey gave the Los Angeles Dodgers their fourth win in a row.
Hanley Ramirez hit a two-run homer with two outs in the fourth and Ricky Nolasco pitched eight innings of two-hit ball in a 2-0 victory over the Boston Red Sox on Friday night in the opener of an interleague series that began as a matchup between first-place teams.
The Dodgers earned their major league-leading 18th shutout of the season while improving to 46-10 since June 22. They opened a 10 ½ game lead in the NL West, their biggest margin since holding the same lead on Sept. 28, 1977.
“We’ve been playing great,” Nolasco said. “We’re just staying with our focus no matter what the opponent is. We know how big it is to keep our ‘A’ game going.”
The Red Sox lost for the sixth time in eight games and fell percentage points behind Tampa Bay in the AL East standings. David Ortiz was hitless in three at-bats. Dustin Pedroia, Daniel Nava and Stephen Drew got the only hits off Nolasco.
He and Lackey dueled through much of Boston’s first visit to Dodger Stadium since 2002. They combined for just five hits in a game that lasted 2 hours, 7 minutes, the Dodgers’ shortest of the season.
“I had a lot of pitches going,” Nolasco said. “You’re just trying to match him. He just made one mistake and pitched a great game as well.”
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.
“We’ve had some guys throw very well against us this year,” Boston manager John Farrell said. “But from a right-hander, this is probably as good a start as we’ve seen against us.”
Nolasco is 5-1 in nine starts since being acquired from Miami. The Dodgers’ starting rotation hasn’t allowed a run in its last 23 innings and the staff improved to 18-2 with a 1.77 ERA in 27 games since July 26.
“As you get deeper into the season these guys start dominating,” Dodgers manager Don Mattingly said. “Ricky made it look easy. He gets a variety of breaking balls over to get ahead in the count and then he can change speeds. When he gets in a bit of trouble, he has another gear. He doesn’t seem to get rattled out there.”
Kenley Jansen pitched a perfect ninth to earn his 22nd save in 25 chances.
Lackey (8-11) gave up two runs and three hits in eight innings, struck out six and walked none in his first complete game since Sept. 10, 2009, when he was with the Angels. The right-hander has received no runs of support six times this season.
“That’s about as good as I’ve felt this year. I had everything pretty much working for me,” Lackey said. “It’s frustrating when one pitch can decide a game. I enjoy these kind of games. I’ve been in a bunch of them. It definitely heightens the focus a little bit.”
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.
“He was trying to quick-pitch me. Maybe try to get me off-balance,” Ramirez said of Lackey. “You got to stay tough and keep fighting until the mistake happens. We knew it wouldn’t be easy with him. He was throwing a lot of strikes.”
Crawford was part of the blockbuster, nine-player deal between the Red Sox and Dodgers last August. He was 2 for 3 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.
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.
“With the exception of the back-to-back base hits in the fifth, every ball we squared up was right at someone,” Farrell said.
NOTES: Hall of Fame announcer Vin Scully confirmed he will return in 2014 to call all Dodgers home games and road games in California and Arizona. It will be his 65th season with the team. … Mattingly said slugger Matt Kemp is getting better, but he’s not ready to return yet from a sprained left ankle. … In 2002, the Red Sox were swept in three games in their only other trip to Dodger Stadium. … Eight of Boston’s last 12 losses have been by two runs or less. … Boston was shut out for the 10th time this season.