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Skaggs shaky as Angels blanked by Red Sox

MLB.com @mi_guardado

ANAHEIM -- This early-season clash between the Angels and the Red Sox had been billed as a marquee showdown between two of the American League's hottest teams, but it's been a one-sided affair thus far.

For the second consecutive night, the Angels struggled to neutralize the Red Sox's mighty offense, as left-hander Tyler Skaggs was rocked for six runs over 4 1/3 innings in a 9-0 loss on Wednesday night at Angel Stadium.

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ANAHEIM -- This early-season clash between the Angels and the Red Sox had been billed as a marquee showdown between two of the American League's hottest teams, but it's been a one-sided affair thus far.

For the second consecutive night, the Angels struggled to neutralize the Red Sox's mighty offense, as left-hander Tyler Skaggs was rocked for six runs over 4 1/3 innings in a 9-0 loss on Wednesday night at Angel Stadium.

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Rafael Devers' first career grand slam capped a five-run third inning for the Red Sox (15-2), who saddled the Angels (13-5) with their first series loss of the season by taking the first two games of this matchup.

Meanwhile, the Angels' bats mustered only six hits against right-hander Rick Porcello, who tossed six scoreless innings to improve to 4-0 in four starts this season. While the Angels entered Wednesday leading the Majors in several offensive categories, including runs, hits, home runs and batting average, they've been outscored, 19-1, by the Red Sox in this series.

"Those guys, if you're missing spots, they're going to swing the bats," Angels manager Mike Scioscia said. "We can, too, but we haven't really pressured those guys the way we need to on the offensive side."

Video: BOS@LAA: Scioscia on Skaggs, loss to Sox

Skaggs allowed eight hits while walking one and striking out four in the 98-pitch effort. He needed 27 pitches to get through the first inning, yielding a double to Hanley Ramirez and an RBI single to Mitch Moreland that gave the Red Sox an early lead.

Skaggs faced more adversity in the third. After Mookie Betts led off with a single, Ramirez bounced a grounder to new third baseman Zack Cozart, who threw to second to try to get the lead runner. But the speedy Betts beat out Cozart's high throw to Ian Kinsler, allowing Ramirez to reach on a fielder's choice. J.D. Martinez then singled to load the bases with no outs, setting up Moreland's second RBI single of the night.

"I thought if I throw it right, I have him, and then we definitely turn the double play with Hanley," Cozart said of his throwing decision. "If it was a good throw, in my opinion, he's out."

Added Scioscia: "He had the play at second. The throw was just a little high. Coz has one of the most accurate throwing arms around, and he's going to make that play a lot of times. Any time you get that forceout, you take it. We trust his judgement, we trust his arm, the throw was just a little high."

Skaggs struck out Eduardo Nunez for the first out of the third, but he then hung a curveball to Devers, who lined it off the right-field wall, over the new home-run boundary, for a grand slam that made it 6-0.

Video: BOS@LAA: Devers cranks a grand slam to right field

"It wasn't the greatest pitch," Skaggs said. "But at the same time, I thought I threw some good pitches tonight. They're just seeing it well. It is what it is. It doesn't matter who's on the mound, they're seeing it. Back to the drawing board."

The Angels' bullpen, which pitched seven innings in Tuesday's 10-1 loss after Shohei Ohtani exited after two frames with a blister, endured another long night after Skaggs was removed with one out in the fifth. Blake Wood allowed a solo homer to Martinez in the seventh, and Keynan Middleton gave up a two-run shot to Moreland in the ninth.

Albert Pujols singled in the first for his 2,990th career hit.

MOMENT THAT MATTERED
Missed opportunities: After the Red Sox took a 1-0 lead in the top of the first, the Angels used singles from Kinsler, Mike Trout and Pujols to load the bases with one out against Porcello in the bottom half of the inning. But the Angels couldn't capitalize on the early opportunity, as Porcello struck out Kole Calhoun and Cozart to end the threat. The Angels went 1-for-7 with runners in scoring position and left eight runners on base in their second shutout loss of the season.

"I think the last couple games, we hit some balls hard, but you're going to run into some waves like this, where it just doesn't seem like you're putting things together," Scioscia said. "But we're a much better offensive team than any time in the last number of years, so we've got a lot of confidence that we're going to keep swinging the bats well."

Video: BOS@LAA: Porcello K's Cozart, strands based loaded

UP NEXT
Angels right-hander Nick Tropeano (1-0, 0.00 ERA) will start opposite Red Sox left-hander Eduardo Rodriguez (1-0, 3.72) in Thursday's series finale at 7:07 p.m. PT at Angel Stadium. Tropeano struck out six over 6 2/3 scoreless innings against the Royals last Thursday in his return from Tommy John surgery. Tropeano is slated to make his first start at Angel Stadium since July 18, 2016.

Maria Guardado covers the Angels for MLB.com. Follow her on Twitter and Facebook.

Los Angeles Angels, Tyler Skaggs