BOSTON -- The Boston Red Sox are getting what they need from their starting pitchers: long outings and strong performances.
Bronson Arroyo became the fourth Boston pitcher in five games to pitch at least eight innings, and the Red Sox overcame a three-run deficit with the help of David Ortiz's two-run single to beat the Los Angeles Angels 6-3 Wednesday night.
"You go eight innings, you are doing something really well," manager Terry Francona said.
During Boston's last five games, Arroyo and Matt Clement each went eight innings, and David Wells and Tim Wakefield pitched complete games.
Curt Schilling was the only member of the current rotation to fall short of eight innings in his last start, but showed improvement in working 6 1/3 innings in Monday's 5-3 loss to the Chicago White Sox.
"You kind of feed off each other," said Arroyo (12-9). "You're thinking about Wakefield going nine last night. ... I'm sitting down on the bench thinking the same thing, trying to get deep in the game."
Mike Timlin got three outs for his seventh save, but a rotation battered by injuries to Schilling and Wade Miller and inconsistency earlier in the season is just where Francona wants it with 24 games left. Boston maintained its four-game lead over the New York Yankees in the AL East.
"Obviously, early in April we didn't" let pitchers go as deep into games, Francona said. "We don't want them to get into the dog days of September and have them dragging. So we really try to monitor them closely."
Ervin Santana (8-7) gave up all six of Boston's runs.
Ortiz, whose homer in the bottom of the ninth gave Boston a 3-2 win in Tuesday night's series opener, tied the game with his single in the third, one pitch after he appeared to swing his bat far enough for a third strike. It was ruled a ball and, after third base umpire Larry Young upheld the call by plate umpire Fieldin Culbreth, Angels manager Mike Scioscia yelled from the dugout and was ejected.
The hit followed walks to Alex Cora and Johnny Damon and a single by Edgar Renteria that dropped between three fielders in short center field. After Ortiz's single gave him a major-league leading 122 RBI, Trot Nixon broke the tie with a double.
"The two walks and the ball in center field that dropped obviously were bigger contributors in that inning than the missed call on the check swing," Scioscia said.
Santana (8-7) worked four innings, dropping to 1-4 with a 9.00 ERA on the road. He's 7-3 with a 3.30 ERA at home.
"It's the same ballgame," Santana said. "I don't know what happened. I try to do my job on the road, too."
Arroyo gave up three runs and five hits in the first two innings then allowed just three singles in the next six. He even retired the first two batters in each of the first two innings before getting into trouble and finished with two strikeouts and no walks.
"He really turned it around and he became aggressive," Francona said.
The Red Sox improved to 10-3 on their season-long 14-game homestand, winning for the third time when trailing by three runs or more. They're a season-high 26 games over .500 and start a three-game series Friday night at Yankee Stadium.
The Angels, with just 26 runs in their last nine games, lost their fifth straight road game and their 11th in their last 12 at Fenway Park. Their AL West lead was cut to a half-game over Oakland, which overcame a four-run, ninth-inning deficit to beat Seattle.
"We have to step up and try to win games like that, close games," shortstop Orlando Cabrera said. "You don't have to get seven, eight runs every night."
Arroyo fell behind 2-0 in the first when Vladimir Guerrero tripled in a run and scored on Darin Erstad's single. Cabrera's RBI single made it 3-0 in the second. Then Arroyo retired 18 of the remaining 21 batters he faced without allowing any runners past second base.
The last three hits off Arroyo were singles by Casey Kotchman in the fourth and sixth, and by Jeff DaVanon in the sixth. DaVanon also doubled off Timlin
Kevin Millar's ninth homer of the season made it 3-1 in the second, an inning in which Santana struck out the side.
Santana gave up Boston's last two runs in the fourth on a walk to Bill Mueller, a triple by Cora and a sacrifice fly by Damon.
DaVanon started in center field for Los Angeles and went 2-for-4. It was his second appearance in 15 games. ... Adam Kennedy went 0-for-3 and is 4-for-44 in his last 14 games. ... Boston's 48-21 home record is the best in the majors.