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09/17/09 2:59 AM ET

Santana, Abreu to face Beckett

Los Angeles (86-59) at Boston (86-58), 4:10 p.m. PT

BOSTON -- Hoping to draw on one of the finest starts of his career in the grand old yard, Ervin Santana goes to the Fenway Park mound to close the series for the Angels against the Red Sox on Thursday.

Josh Beckett takes the ball for Boston, and there is back story there as well.

It is Beckett's first appearance against the Angels since April 12, when he threw a ball in the direction of Bobby Abreu's head after a timeout to touch off a benches-clearing incident.

For Santana, the idea is to trace his steps from Aug. 17, 2007, when he held the Red Sox hitless for 4 1/3 innings and outdueled Beckett in a victory that came after Boston had rallied to seize the lead against the Angels' bullpen.

"I really felt good that night," Santana recalled. "It was one of my best games. I was throwing a no-hitter and the guy [J.D. Drew] got a broken-bat single.

"The stadium is interesting with that left-field wall right there behind you. They try to pull everything. But you can't just stay [away from hitters]; you have to go in and out. You have to pitch your game. I always try to bring my best game, wherever I pitch. You always have to compete."

Beckett has dropped his past three regular-season starts against the Angels, including that 5-4 loss April 12.

Abreu was minding his own business, having stepped out of the batter's box with time called, when a ball left Beckett's hand and came whistling toward his headgear with Chone Figgins at second base and one out in the first inning.

"I don't know," Abreu said when asked if he felt Beckett was intentionally trying to injure him. "The umpire called time, I called time, too. For some reason -- I don't know if he heard it or not -- he threw the ball at my head.

"If I wasn't paying attention, I would have gotten hit in the head. That's not right. It was very close." Abreu held a hand about six inches from his face.

Angels manager Mike Scioscia was ejected along with center fielder Torii Hunter, reliever Justin Speier and hitting coach Mickey Hatcher. All Red Sox personnel, including Beckett, remained eligible, which infuriated the Angels.

Beckett, who had yielded a leadoff single and steal to Figgins, claimed he meant no harm to Abreu, a familiar figure to the big right-hander from the Red Sox-Yankees rivalry.

"I know Bobby Abreu," said Beckett, who was handed a five-game suspension after a review of the incident by MLB. "He knows I'm not trying to hit him in the head."

Abreu, a .215 career hitter against Beckett with two homers in 65 at-bats, clearly would appreciate it if he doesn't have to dodge any flying objects this time around.

"We'll see what happens," Abreu said, shrugging.

Pitching matchup
LAA: RHP Ervin Santana (7-8, 5.52 ERA)
Santana was solid on Saturday against the White Sox, allowing three runs (two earned) on seven hits over seven innings but was saddled with a no-decision. Santana was hurt by the long ball with two solo home runs, including an inside-the-park home run by Scott Podsednik. Santana is 1-2 with a 5.67 ERA in five career starts against the Red Sox.

BOS: RHP Josh Beckett (15-6, 3.82 ERA)
Beckett hurled five frames of one-run ball last Saturday in a rain-shortened victory over the Rays at Fenway Park. The 29-year-old righty improved to 9-1 with a 3.42 ERA in 94 2/3 innings of home work this season. In seven lifetime starts against the Angels, Boston's ace is 2-3 with a 4.26 ERA.

Hunter extended his hitting streak to 12 games with a double in his second at-bat Wednesday after sending a drive to the wall in center first time up against Paul Byrd. ... Juan Rivera ended an 0-for-8 dry spell with his third-inning single Wednesday, scoring on Erick Aybar's single. ... Maicer Izturis has established career highs in runs (67), hits (106), homers (eight) and RBIs (59). The smooth infielder has committed only four errors in 81 combined starts at second base and shortstop. ... The Angels have produced 10 shutouts while getting blanked only five times. ... Former Halos first baseman Casey Kotchman doubled to the opposite field leading off the third inning in his first at-bat on Wednesday night against Joe Saunders but was stranded.

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Up next
• Friday: Angels (Scott Kazmir, 8-8, 5.32) at Rangers (Tommy Hunter, 8-3, 3.23), 5:05 p.m. PT
• Saturday: Angels (Jered Weaver, 15-6, 3.85) at Rangers (Scott Feldman, 16-5, 3.65), 4:05 p.m. PT
• Sunday: Angels (John Lackey, 10-8, 3.47) at Rangers (Derek Holland, 7-11, 6.01), 10:05 a.m. PT

Lyle Spencer is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.