Behind Lackey's 7 1/3 shutout innings, the Angels blanked the Red Sox, 5-0, to claim Game 1 of the American League Division Series.
Darren Oliver chipped in with 1 2/3 innings of hitless ball, and the Angels handed the Red Sox their first shutout in the postseason since facing the Indians in Game 2 of the 1995 ALDS.
"Everyone has been here before," Dustin Pedroia said. "We lost the first game. You don't win one and the series is over. That's not how it goes. We'll come out tomorrow, and we need to play a lot better than we did today."
Lackey surrendered just four singles, frustrating a Boston offense that was shut out seven times during the regular season.
"He had a lot of life on his fastball," Red Sox manager Terry Francona said of Lackey. "He was able to locate his fastball with two different directions. He was good. He was real good."
The Red Sox's first five hitters were 1-for-18, collecting only a Pedroia single in the sixth inning.
"We've got to have better at-bats," Pedroia said. "I felt like early in the game, we were kind of a little bit rusty. We had three days off. You could tell [our] timing was a little bit off. You could tell later in the game we had better at-bats. Hopefully we'll come out tomorrow and swing the bats better and have a better result."
The best-of-five series resumes on Friday at Anaheim Stadium.
"We've been down before, and guys know how to respond," leadoff hitter Jacoby Ellsbury said. "Obviously, we would have liked to win this one. They played well tonight. Hopefully we can get them tomorrow."
Lackey retired the first eight Red Sox batters he faced before Alex Gonzalez singled with two outs in the third inning. Ellsbury followed with a disputed play. He tapped back to the mound for what appeared to be the third out. Thinking the inning was over, the TBS crew went to a commercial break. However, Ellsbury was awarded first base due to catchers' interference on Jeff Mathis.
However, the potential threat ended when Pedroia lifted a fly ball to right field that was hauled in by Bobby Abreu.
"Lackey went out there and he pitched tremendous," Ellsbury said. "We don't take anything for granted. It's going to be a hard fought series. Hopefully we can come out tomorrow and get that win."
The third inning was just one of two where the Red Sox had two baserunners.
In the sixth inning, Pedroia singled and Victor Martinez walked with two outs. But Kevin Youkilis was retired on a ground ball.
The Red Sox did have their share of deep counts. Even in the first inning, when they were retired in order, they induced 21 pitches out of Lackey, who exited after throwing 114.
"I thought he did a tremendous job when he needed that big pitch," Ellsbury said. "Guys were battling. When he needed that big pitch, he made it. He really didn't give us too much to hit. Hats off to him."
Jason Bay led off the fifth inning with a single, and it was the only time all night the Red Sox's leadoff man reached. However, Mike Lowell bounced into a 6-4-3 double play, and Lackey was out of a potential jam.
No Red Sox runner advanced beyond second base.
The way Lackey was in command had Bay saying it wasn't so much a night of missed chances as much as an opposing starter limiting opportunities.
"We are a pretty good offensive team," Bay said. "Lackey shut us down with four singles. Four singles and three errors [in the field] isn't going win too many ballgames. You tip your hat a little bit. I think we can be better.
"He commanded the strike zone. We ran his pitch count up a little bit early, but after that he settled down a little bit. We really didn't get much. It wasn't like a game of missed opportunities. We didn't have many. It was one of those cases where he was better than we were tonight."
Joe Frisaro is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.