BOSTON -- The Boston Red Sox are certainly enjoying playing a lot more this season.
David Ortiz hit a three-run home run and Jarrod Saltalamacchia connected twice, the first coming one pitch before Mike Carp homered Sunday, and the Red Sox beat the Los Angeles Angels 10-5.
Sitting atop the AL East after a miserable 69-93 record last season that saw first-year manager Bobby Valentine fired during the offseason and a trio of stars -- Adrian Gonzalez. Josh Beckett and Carl Crawford -- traded to the Los Angeles Dodgers in a salary dump last August, the Red Sox are feeling like they can enjoy the game again.
"This is a great clubhouse, a great group of guys. It starts with the top and works its way down," Saltalamacchia said. "Everybody knows their role and everybody knows what approach to take, which makes things easier. We’ve got a good group of veterans with a good group of young guys. It’s a lot of fun, especially being in first place, but we know we have to focus on tomorrow."
Ryan Dempster (4-6) got his 2,000th career strikeout when he fanned Alberto Callaspo to open the sixth.
The Red Sox took two of three in the weekend series against the Angels and have won six of eight.
Dempster, signed to a two-year deal via free agency during the offseason, agreed with his batterymate -- Saltalamacchia.
"We’re a team. We’re a tight unit and so when guys are getting a bunch of hits, it’s a lot of fun in the dugout," Dempster said. "See a guy like Salty break out and get two homers today. It’s good energy. As a pitcher, a starting pitcher, it allows you to go out there and really fill the strike zone up. You got a little bit of breathing room."
Los Angeles entered the weekend having won eight straight against the Red Sox after going 6-0 last season, but dropped the final two after winning the opener of a day-night doubleheader Saturday.
Albert Pujols and Callaspo each had solo homers for the Angels.
The Angels’ power-filled lineup was no match for Boston’s bats on Sunday.
"You just need to make your pitches. If I could just take back one pitch, just the change-up to Ortiz," Angels starter Joe Blanton said. "It was just middle-in up and it’s not a good place to throw a changeup to him. If I make a pitch there and get and get the next one, it’s a big difference taking away three runs. It changes the [complexion] of the game. I just gotta make a better pitch in that situation and I didn’t do it."
Ortiz, who hit a two-run homer and drove in three runs in Boston’s 7-2 win in the nightcap of a doubleheader Saturday, has five homers and 14 RBI in his last 10 games.
Angels manager Mike Scioscia felt Blanton didn’t locate his fastball well enough when he needed it.
"I think he got off to a good start the first go-round of the lineup and then he just had trouble with his fastball," Scioscia said. "He got a change-up up to David Ortiz for the three-run home run. Just struggled with fastball command, especially in the sixth inning."
Saltalamacchia and Carp opened the sixth with homers into the center field seats off starter Blanton (1-10), Carp’s drive chasing Blanton. In the next inning, Saltalamacchia homered to center field again, this time a three-run shot into the first row off Robert Coello to give Boston a 10-3 lead.
Dempster gave up three runs on six hits in six innings, walking two and striking out six for just his second victory in his last six decisions.
Blanton was tagged for seven runs -- six earned -- with three homers in eight hits over five-plus innings.
Trailing 1-0 in the third, the Red Sox scored four runs off Blanton. Daniel Nava tied it with an RBI single, Dustin Pedroia singled, then Ortiz belted his homer into the Red Sox bullpen to make it 4-1.
Callaspo hit a solo homer in the fourth, but Jacoby Ellsbury’s RBI triple into the right field corner made it 5-2.
Los Angeles cut it to 5-3 in the fifth on Mark Trumbo’s run-scoring single after Mike Trout doubled off the Green Monster.
Pujols’ solo homer pushed the Angels ahead in the first.