ANAHEIM, Calif. -- It took Matt Palmer 30 years to get his first major league victory, and now he has four in a span of just 21 days -- including a complete game against the Boston Red Sox.
The Los Angeles Angels' right-hander overcame a shaky start, pitching a five-hitter and retiring the last 19 batters in an 8-4 victory on Wednesday night."It's amazing. The story writes itself. But I don't have a chance to pinch myself," Palmer said. "I don't have a chance to sit here and relax. I've got to pitch hard every game. If I don't, then I'm out. That's just the way it is. So I'll keep going hard as long as I can and try to impress and try to keep my team where they need to be."After spending 38 pitches in the first two innings, Palmer (4-0) threw just 71 over the final seven. The complete game was the Angels' third in their last six contests."I've got to commend him. He's a journeyman who's been around the minor leagues for seven or eight years, and right now he's fulfilling his dream and pitching his butt off," teammate Torii Hunter said."From center field, I could see everything -- and I was impressed. He had the cutter working inside, backdoor-ing guys, and had them off-balance. He was changing speeds, hard-in with the sinker, and the curveball was breaking so much it looked like it rolled off a table. And they couldn't handle it."Palmer, struck out eight and walked two. He made his first three big league starts last season with San Francisco and was 0-2."We got some runs early and then he settled down," said Jason Bay, who had two hits including a two-run homer in the first inning. "He was getting us to swing at his pitch early in the count. He did a good job of using all his pitches and didn't really expose one pitch in one spot. It was kind of a textbook case of a pitcher using everything he's got, hitting his spots and getting early contact."Mike Napoli hit a go-ahead three-run homer and Hunter also went deep against knuckleballer Tim Wakefield, who is 0-6 with a 9.30 ERA in his last six road starts against the two-time defending AL West champions.Wakefield (4-2) was staked to a 4-0 lead through the first two innings. But that disappeared in the third as the Angels rallied with five runs against the right-hander, who retired only six of his first 15 batters."The offense scored four runs early and gave me a comfortable lead, and I couldn't hold it," Wakefield said. "I just tried to grind it out and it didn't work. I pride myself on giving the club innings, and I wasn't able to do that tonight. Physically, I felt fine. I left the bullpen feeling great, but I just couldn't convert it into the game."The first five Angels reached base safely in the third, as Hunter and Kendry Morales hit consecutive RBI singles. Napoli followed with a drive to center field on an 0-1 pitch, putting the Halos ahead to stay.Hunter made it 6-4 in the fourth, sending a 1-0 delivery just inside the left field pole for his ninth homer of the season and fourth of his career against Wakefield. The 17-year veteran had allowed only one home run in 51 innings over his previous eight starts, after giving up three in the first two innings of a 10-3 loss at Tampa Bay on Sept. 17.Reggie Willits gave the Angels a 7-4 lead in the fifth with a two-out single that chased Wakefield, who was charged with seven runs and 11 hits over 4 2/3 innings in his shortest outing this season. Last year, he failed to complete three innings in three of his final six starts, including a 13-4 loss to the Rays in Game 4 of the AL Championship Series.David Ortiz was 1-for-4, and has gone 137 at-bats since his last home run on Sept. 22 against at Fenway Park. He is eight at-bats away from equaling his longest dry spell at any point of a season during his big league career, which included parts of six seasons with Minnesota.
Angels RHP Ervin Santana, sidelined since opening day because of a sprained elbow, will make his season debut in Thursday's matinee against Brad Penny. ... Angels RHP John Lackey will make his season debut on Saturday, a year and two days after making his first start of 2008. Lackey, who had never been on the disabled list in his first six big league campaigns, sat out the first 41 games last season with a strained triceps and has been sidelined this season because of a forearm strain.