ANAHEIM, Calif. (AP) – Matt Palmer overcame a shaky start before retiring the last 19 batters to lead the Los Angeles Angels to an 8-4 victory over the Boston Red Sox on Wednesday night.

Mike Napoli hit a go-ahead three-run homer and Torii 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. Palmer (4-0) allowed five hits, struck out eight and walked two. The right-hander made his first three big league starts last season with San Francisco and lost all of them. The complete game was the Angels’ third in their last six contests.

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 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.

Notes: 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.

… While Lackey and Santana were on the DL, Palmer and RHP Shane Loux were a combined 6-0 with a 3.12 ERA for the Angels. The duo entered this season a combined 1-6 with a 6.78 ERA. … Boston’s Nick Green, started at 2B for the second straight night because of Dustin Pedroia’s groin injury. … RHP Daniel Bard, Boston’s minor league pitcher of the year last season, allowed a hit in two innings in his major league debut. … RF Gary Matthews Jr., 3-for-21 lifetime against Wakefield, was in the original starting lineup but was scratched because of tightness in his lower back.

AP-ES-05-14-09 0042EDT

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