BOSTON – Kevin Jepsen hadn’t earned a save in nearly two years. He certainly deserved this one, after a clutch strikeout of Boston bopper David Ortiz.
Mike Trout and Albert Pujols hit consecutive RBI doubles, and the Los Angeles Angels extended their AL West lead with a 4-2 victory over the Red Sox on Monday night.
With two runners on and none out in the ninth, Jepsen threw a well-executed changeup to Ortiz that moved off the plate, getting Big Papi to swing and miss wildly.
“I wanted to give him a pitch he thinks he can drive, but it fades out of the zone. In that situation, I’m going for the strikeout,” Jepsen said. “Watching him, I’ve seen him come up a ton of times in that situation and tie it up.”
Jepsen then got Yoenis Cespedes to bounce into a run-scoring fielder’s choice before Mike Napoli lined to center, closing out his first save since Sept. 16, 2012.
It was the fifth win in six games for the Angels, who moved a half-game ahead of idle Oakland.
“That’s a great pitch,” Angels manager Mike Scioscia said. “It’s a tough situation. David can beat you at any part of this ballpark on a variety of pitches and you’ve got to make your pitches there.”
Ortiz reached base four times with a double, a single and two walks for the Red Sox, who have lost three of four after winning four straight.
Boston was 1-for-14 with runners in scoring position and stranded 12 overall.
Los Angeles starter C.J. Wilson (10-8) labored through 5⅓ innings, giving up one run and five hits with five walks and five strikeouts.
Brandon Workman (1-7) lost his sixth straight start, giving up two runs and six hits in seven innings. He was skipped for a couple of turns to rest his arm.
The Angels broke ahead 2-0 on two-out doubles by Trout and Pujols in the third after Kole Calhoun walked.
Brock Holt extended his hitting streak to 12 games with an RBI single, cutting it to 2-1 in the fourth.
Los Angeles added two runs in the eighth when reliever Junichi Tazawa bobbled a grounder and made a wild throw with the bases loaded. He was charged with two errors on the play.
Royals 6, Twins 4
In Minneapolis, Erik Kratz homered twice after replacing an ailing Salvador Perez, and Jason Vargas pitched seven strong innings to lead first-place Kansas City to a victory over the Twins.
Vargas (10-5) allowed one run on four this and struck out three, but had his scoreless innings streak snapped at 17 when Oswaldo Arcia hit a solo homer in the seventh. Perez had two hits and two RBIs before leaving in the seventh because of discomfort in his right knee, helping the Royals win for the 21st time in 26 games.
Kansas City extended its lead over the idle Detroit Tigers in the AL Central to two games.
Trevor May (0-2) gave up three runs on seven hits and walked four in 4⅔ innings for the Minnesota.
The Royals’ Norichika Aoki was hitless in four at-bats.
Orioles 8, White Sox 2
In Chicago, Nick Markakis hit a two-run homer and prevented one with a leaping catch in right field, and Nelson Cruz and J.J. Hardy each added a solo shot to power Baltimore past the White Sox.
Markakis was 3-for-5 with two RBIs and two runs, helping the Orioles increase their AL East lead to 7½ games over the idle New York Yankees.
Cruz hit his 32nd homer, passing White Sox rookie Jose Abreu for the American League lead. Cruz is tied with Giancarlo Stanton of the Miami Marlins for the most in the majors.
Bud Norris (11-7) allowed two runs and three hits in seven innings to win his third straight start.
Chicago ace Chris Sale (10-3) yielded three runs and eight hits in six innings.