Red Sox Live Blog: John Lackey Pitches Eight Shutout Innings, Carl Crawford Homers as Sox Beat Up Angels 7-0Final, Red Sox 7-0: A 1-2-3 ninth inning for Dan Wheeler, and the Red Sox have won their fifth straight.

The Sox’ starting pitching continues to excel, with Lackey throwing eight scoreless innings today, while striking out six.

Adrian Gonzalez collected three hits, and Carl Crawford had two, including his first home run in a Red Sox uniform. It was Crawford’s second straight multi-hit game. 

The win marks the first four-game sweep for the Red Sox on the road versus the Angels since 1980. They’re now 10-11 on the season, only one win shy of pulling to .500 for the first time. The Sox will be off tomorrow night, before heading to Baltimore for the start of a three-game set with the Orioles on Tuesday.

Mid 9th, Red Sox 7-0: Well Adrian Gonzalez continues to make his case for the prestigious chocolate bunny. He collected his third hit of the night, driving a first pitch fastball into right field for a base hit.

Gonzalez and Crawford have both earned their paychecks tonight — a welcomed for Sox fans everywhere.

Rich Thompson struck out the side around Gonzalez’s single, and we’re heading to the ninth with the Sox up 7-0. It looks like Dan Wheeler will take over for John Lackey, who pitched eight fantastic innings today.

End 8th, Red Sox 7-0: The first Angels batter of the eighth, Erick Aybar, dropped a line drive just in front of Mike Cameron in right.

Lackey then got Abreu to pop out in the infield before issuing a walk to Bobby Wilson, who just checked into the game during the top half of the frame.

Alberto Callaspo has had a couple of good at-bats off Lackey tonight, but he’s retired once again, this time via the second putout of the inning for Scutaro.

Reggie Willits flew out to center to end the inning.

Neither Jonathan Papelbon nor Bobby Jenks were available for Saturday’s game after working in three straight. Both are available today, but a little extra rest for those workhorses could do no harm.

Matt Albers has been warming up in the Sox bullpen, so we’ll see if that will be it for Lackey. He’s been brilliant today, pitching eight shutout innings on 108 pitches.

Is he worthy of winning the 2011 Red Sox Chocolate Bunny Award? Carl Crawford has two hits, including his first home run as a member of the Red Sox, and Adrian Gonzalez and Jacoby Ellsbury have turned in solid performances as well. Vote now for who you think deserves the award.

Mid 8th, Red Sox 7-0: The Angels brought in Rich Thompson to pitch the eighth inning.

The 26-year-old Thompson is one of only 25 players in major league history to hail from Australia.

The Angels also had a number of defensive substitutions to begin the eighth.

Torii Hunter came out of the game. He was replaced by Bobby Wilson, who headed over to first base. Mark Trumbo went from first base to right field, and Reggie Willits replaced left fielder Vernon Wells.

The Sox don’t generate much offense in the eighth, although Carl Crawford did collect his second hit of the game. He lined the ninth pitch he saw from Thompson into right field for a base hit.

End 7th, Red Sox 7-0: Back to work for John Lackey. The right-hander retired Howie Kendrick on a groundball to Scutaro, and took care of Mark Trumbo on a pop out to Pedroia.

The overcast glare is a bit tough at Angel Stadium, which forced Pedroia to shield his eyes on the sky-high pop up.

After quickly getting two outs, Jeff Mathis lined a single past Youkilis at third into left field. It broke up a string of eight straight batters retired by Lackey.

After a wild pitch that allowed Mathis to advance to second, Lackey settled down to strike out Peter Bourjos on six pitches. Bourjos is the only hitter in the Angels lineup with more than one hit, but Lackey delivered a beautiful pitch for a called third strike.

Lackey now has six strikeouts in the game, and has thrown 93 pitches thus far — 65 for strikes.

Mid 7th, Red Sox 7-0: The Angels go to the bullpen for the second time today, bringing in Francisco Rodriguez. No, not that Francisco Rodriguez.

This Francisco Rodriguez doesn’t quite have the resume of the former Angels closer and current Mets closer, K-Rod.

This is only the second big league season for this Francisco Rodriguez. He’s given up two earned runs in 5 1/3 innings this season upon entering the game, after compiling a 1-3 record with a 4.37 ERA in 43 relief appearances for the Halos last season.

Scutaro led off the inning with a single, his second hit of the game and the third time he’s been on base. Ellsbury then struck out swinging, and Pedroia was retired on a high chopper to the middle of the infield that was fielded cleanly by the second baseman, Kendrick.

But Scutaro’s advancement to second base proved to be big, as the next batter, Adrian Gonzalez, shot an RBI single into left field. A-Gon is now 2-for-4 with a single, a double and two RBIs.

Kevin Youkilis nearly made it back-to-back with a shot down the left field line, but it landed just to the left of the foul pole. Youk ended up working a walk off Rodriguez, before Ortiz grounded into the shift to end the inning.

Angels fans are probably wishing it had been the old Francisco Rodriguez this inning.

End 6th, Red Sox 6-0: Before the buzz surrounding Crawford’s home run could die down, Lackey goes out and makes quick work of the Angels in the bottom of the sixth.

It looked like fielding practice for center fielder Jacoby Ellsbury, who recorded all three putouts on fly balls hit by Hunter, Callaspo and Wells.

Mid 6th, Red Sox 6-0: There’s a sight we’ve longed to see. Carl Crawford grinning from ear-to-ear as he heads back into the Red Sox dugout.

After falling behind 0-2, Crawford managed to foul off a tough slider from Takahashi on the third pitch. He was then able to work the count full before driving a curveball into the seats in right.

It took 21 games, but Crawford has finally hit his first home run as a member of the Red Sox. He’s really starting to look more comfortable at the plate.

It’s a two-run shot for Crawford. Youkilis led the inning off with a single, and David Ortiz walked. Mike Cameron then grounded into a 5-4-3 double play before Crawford’s blast.

5:22 p.m.: The Angels will make a call to the bullpen and bring in Hisanori Takahashi — the third Japanese-born player in Angels history.

That name’s not quite at Shigetoshi Hasegawa status, but it’s still pretty good.

Matt Palmer allowed four earned runs on six hits through five innings. He’s still responsible for Kevin Youkilis at first, who singled to lead things off in the sixth.

End 5th, Red Sox 4-0: A nice piece of hitting by Peter Bourjos. He kept his hands back and looped a Lackey curveball into right-center field for his second hit of the game.

Lackey then mowed down Aybar on a nasty cutter, before getting Bobby Abreu to ground out to Gonzalez at first.

Lackey has now thrown 68 pitches through five innings. Palmer, on the other hand, has had to labor much more — throwing 95 thus far. It could be just a matter of time before the Angels turn to their bullpen.

Mid 5th, Red Sox 4-0: A fantastic play by the first baseman, Trumbo, to lead off the fifth. He made a diving snag, and flipped it to the pitcher, Palmer, to retire Saltalamacchia, marking the eighth batter in a row that Palmer has retired.

But the Red Sox finally started to string something together again.

Scutaro ripped the fourth cut-fastball he saw in the at-bat into left field for a base hit. Jacoby Ellsbury followed with a single of his own, sending Scutaro from first to third.

Dustin Pedroia put a good cut on a ball that he lined foul into the seats in left. He eventually golfed a ball into left field for a sacrifice fly, and the fourth Boston run of the game.

I’m not sure how Pedroia was able to lift that one in the air to bring home the run. I mean I know golf weather seems to have arrived in Boston, but come on. It seems like Pedroia still has some issues with Kevin Youkilis taking home the first annual Second Base Cup back in spring training.

End 4th, Red Sox 3-0: Well, Lackey continues to look impressive here this afternoon. He made quick work of Vernon Wells and Howie Kendrick, before striking out Trumbo on a nasty slider.

Lackey now has 4 K’s through four innings, and has allowed just three hits.

Mid 4th, Red Sox 3-0: Matt Palmer has settled in nicely over the past couple of innings. Earlier in the game, it looked as though the Sox lineup was going to have a field day with the 32-year-old. He’s retired seven in a row, though, mostly on off-speed stuff.

David Ortiz grounded out to shortstop to lead off the inning, Cameron followed up with a flyout to center and Crawford ended the inning by grounding out to the second baseman Kendrick.

Wells, Kendrick and Trumbo will come up for the Angels in the bottom of the fourth.

End 3rd, Red Sox 3-0: Lackey wasn’t quite as sharp in the third inning as he was in the second, when he struck out the side, but he was able to escape without giving up a run.

The speedy Peter Bourjos, who’s shown his great range in the outfield in this series, dropped a bunt down that Saltalamacchia wasn’t able to gobble up and fire to first in time.

On an Erick Aybar ground ball to first, Adrian Gonzalez made what could have been a crucial mistake. Rather than taking the out at first, he fired to second and Bourjos beat it out.

Fortunately for Lackey, he was able to get Abreu to ground into a double play to record the first two outs of the innings. After plunking Hunter, Callaspo had another good battle with Lackey, but this time Lackey was victorious, forcing him to fly out to left.

Mid 3rd, Red Sox 3-0: A great play by Angels catcher Jeff Mathis on what looked like a swinging bunt from Pedroia to lead off the third. He quickly jumped out from behind the plate, called off the pitcher and fired an off-balance strike to first for the out.

Gonzalez followed up by working another full-count, but Palmer was able to get him looking on the seventh pitch of the at-bat.

Youkilis flew out to Torii Hunter in right field to end the inning. It’s Palmer’s first 1-2-3 inning of the afternoon, and it’s exactly what he needed given his climbing pitch count.

End 2nd, Red Sox 3-0: A superb inning for John Lackey. He struck out Kendrick, Trumbo and Mathis in order on only 12 pitches.

The last strikeout came on an 81-mph curveball to Mathis that simply fell off the table. Good to see.

The Sox will send up Pedroia, Gonzalez and Youkilis in the third. 

Mid 2nd, Red Sox 3-0: The Red Sox again came out in the second looking to make Palmer work. Saltalamacchia worked the count full before eventually striking out, and Scutaro walked after working the count full himself.

Jacoby Ellsbury nearly grounded into a rare double play. It was Taylor-made for the Angels, but shortstop Erick Aybar’s throw to first was off the mark.

But that didn’t stop at least one Ellsbury-related rarity from occurring in the inning. After a pickoff attempt, the Angels pitched out twice, catching Ellsbury stealing on the second offering. It marks the third time that Ellsbury has been caught stealing this season.

Palmer is all the way up to 51 pitches through two innings.

End 1st, Red Sox 3-0: Erick Aybar tried to drop down a bunt on Lackey to lead off the game, but Youkilis was able to make nice bare-handed play.

After a Bobby Abreu single and a Torii Hunter flyout, Alberto Callaspo — appearing in the cleanup spot for the first time in his career — put on one heck of a battle.

He fouled off six straight pitches as part of a 12-pitch at-bat that ended when he scorched one to second base that Pedroia couldn’t handle cleanly. With the count at 3-2, Abreu was running on all six of the pitches that Callaspo fouled off. I think that means the 37-year-old got his requisite cardio in for the evening.

Vernon Wells got a good piece of one to center that Ellsbury got a bad break on, but Jacoby was able to use his speed to recover and track it down for the third out of the inning. Lackey threw 18 pitches in the first, most of which were to Callaspo, but no damage was done. 

Mid 1st, Red Sox 3-0: The Sox are making Matt Palmer pay early for falling behind hitters.

Jacoby Ellsbury led off the game with a double down the right field line on a 3-1 pitch and, after a Dustin Pedroia fly out to left, Adrian Gonzalez shot one up the alley way in right field for the game’s first run.

Gonzalez was only 1-for-10 over his last two games, but he was 9-for-25 during a six-game hitting streak before that.

After a Kevin Youkilis walk, David Ortiz goes the other way for a base hit on a 3-2 fastball for his 10th RBI of the season and the second Boston run of the game.

Palmer’s been relatively wild here in the early going, but you have to give the Sox hitters credit. They are really making him work. Gonzalez, Youkilis and Ortiz each made Palmer go to three-ball counts, and he’s already thrown 33 pitches.

The Red Sox’ third run came on an RBI groundout to third by Mike Cameron. Callaspo made a play deep down the line in the field, and they had no chance to turn two. Cameron may be 38 years old, but he can still run fairly well. In fact, Tito elected to try a hit-and-run with Cameron on first and Crawford at the plate, but Crawford fouled it off.

Four pitches later, Crawford grounded out to short. But the Sox’ offense was impressive to start things off.

3:40 p.m.: The sun’s back out, and away we go here on Easter Sunday.

3:33 p.m.: So now we play the waiting game. The rain is coming down, but apparently it’s not supposed to last too long. Then again, stranger things have happened. 

It’s crazy to think that we may have been better off with this game played in Boston, where it’s currently 75 degrees.

While we wait, though, Happy Easter everyone!

know T.C. and Jim Rice will be giving away a special Easter Sunday award after the game — a la John Madden’s Galloping Gobbler. Who do you guys see taking home the prestigious award?

Here’s a list of some memorable MLB Easter performances to check out while we wait as well. I’m sure one year on that list stands out to everyone.

3:21 p.m.: Well Mother Nature isn’t quite cooperating in Anaheim right now. With some rain coming down, the Angels ground crew has rolled out the tarp. We’ll see if, and how long, this delays today’s first pitch. 

3:11 p.m.: Quick note on today’s starters:

This is only the 20th start of 32-year-old Matt Palmer’s career. He had been used primarily as a reliever up until this season, although he initially broke into the league as a starter with the Giants in 2008.

He is 1-0 with a 7.30 ERA in three games versus the Sox — one of which was a start. He actually picked up a complete game versus the Sox in 2009, allowing four runs on five hits.

Lackey, who spent eight seasons with the Angels, is 3-0 with a 3.38 ERA in three starts against his former team since arriving in Boston last season. 

3:03 p.m.: The lineups are in, and it looks like Maicer Izturis is a late scratch for the Angels due to a sore left hamstring.

For the Sox, Jacoby Ellsbury will lead off again this evening. Mike Cameron will be in the lineup in right field, while Marco Scutaro is back at short.

It’s tough to sit Jed Lowrie down given his torrid start to the season, but he’ll get a breather after eight straight starts.

Here is the rest of the Red Sox lineup:

Jacoby Ellsbury, CF
Dustin Pedroia, 2B
Adrian Gonzalez, 1B
Kevin Youkilis, 3B
David Ortiz, 1B 
Mike Cameron, RF
Carl Crawford, LF 
Jarrod Saltalamacchia, C
Marco Scutaro, SS

The Angels’ lineup will look like this:

Erick Aybar, SS
Bobby Abreu, DH
Torii Hunter, RF
Alberto Callaspo, 3B
Vernon Wells, LF
Howie Kendrick, 2B
Mark Trumbo, 1B
Jeff Mathis, C
Peter Bourjos, CF
 

11 a.m.: After their nightmarish start, it seems nearly unfathomable that the Red Sox look prime to finish April with an over-.500 record. That, though, is undeniably within reach, as the legitimately hot Sox have improved to 9-11 with six games still on the schedule in the season’s first month.

In his first return to his long-time home of 2011, John Lackey will look to build on the success of his last start, in which he threw six innings of one-run ball against the A’s. Opposing Lackey will be journeyman Matt Palmer, who is 1-0 with a 4.22 ERA in two starts this season.

First pitch in Anaheim is set for 3:35 p.m. ET.