Lester’s perfect six innings lead Red Sox to 5-1 win over Rays

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Unofficially slated as the Red Sox’s Opening Day starter, Jon Lester took a giant step in his preparation for the April 1 opener in New York. Lester pitched six perfect innings in the Sox’s 5-1 win over the Tampa Bay Rays on Sunday afternoon. Lester struck out six of the 18 batters he retired in succession on 79 pitchers, 53 for strikes. So far this spring Lester has pitched 20 innings, giving up two runs on four hits while striking out 16.

Offensively the Red Sox were led by outfielder Jonny Gomes, who went 3-for-3 with a double and four RBIs. Will Middlebrooks had a solid day as well going 2-for-3 with a double and two runs scored. Gomes is hitting .313 this spring, while Middlebrooks close behind at .276.

The Red Sox will next be in action Monday afternoon taking on the Pittsburgh Pirates in Bradenton, Fla.

What they’ll be saying: Although it is only spring training, this was a very impressive performance from the 29-year-old left-hander. He has progressed in each of his five appearances this spring, picking up three wins and maintaining a minuscule 0.90 ERA along the way. Coming off a disappointing 2012 campaign, Lester was determined to turn things around and with the spring he has had, he’s well on his way to re-establishing himself as one of the best pitchers in the American League.



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