Sports

Angels win, avoid rare season sweep

BOSTON - Torii Hunter couldn't sleep at night, not with his Los Angeles Angels mired in another losing streak. Their 0-9 record against the Red Sox this season wasn't helping, either.

So the Angels outfielder called a players-only meeting before Thursday’s series and season finale against Boston, and the team responded with a 7-2 victory.

“We had a little more energy, a little more bounce in our step,” Hunter said after collecting three hits. “There’s music playing, cracking jokes in the dugout. That’s what you’ve got to get back to: having fun.”

Hideki Matsui hit a three-run homer, then drove in another run with a bases-loaded walk, and Ervin Santana took a two-hitter into the eighth inning to help the Angels beat the Red Sox for the first time this season.

“Those guys have been taking it to us. We haven’t played well against them,” Los Angeles manager Mike Scioscia said. “But our focus wasn’t on who we’re playing. We need to bring it every night. Tonight was definitely a step forward, and that was encouraging.”

Santana (13-8) allowed two runs and four hits in seven-plus innings, walking four, hitting a batter and striking out three. Kevin Jepsen, who blew Wednesday night’s game by giving up runs on a wild pitch and hit batsman, pitched out of Santana’s bases-loaded, no-outs jam in the eighth by retiring Victor Martinez, former Mariner Adrian Beltre and J.D. Drew.

The Angels had fallen below .500 with their fourth three-game losing streak since the All-Star break. So Hunter cleared the coaches out of the clubhouse before the game for a meeting he described as intense but uplifting.

“I’d love to tell you (what was said), but it’s secret,” he said. “We got into it a couple of times, but it was definitely uplifting. ... We got some things cleared up. ’Just go out there and play like it’s your last.’ That’s all I asked.”

David Ortiz reached base four times, including a solo homer in the fourth for Boston. Josh Beckett (3-3) took a two-hit shutout into the sixth inning before giving up four hits in a row with one out, leading to four Los Angeles runs.

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