Strong start from Lester leads Red Sox to shutout win over Orioles

After dropping the first game of their three-game weekend set with the Orioles and falling out of first place for the first time in two months, the Red Sox took the final two games of the series, capped by Sunday’s 5-0 win, and are now back on top of the AL East after the Rays fell to the Yankees.

Jon Lester was the big story of the game as he pitched undoubtedly his best game in quite some time. The left-hander threw seven shutout innings, scattering four hits while striking out eight. He primarily relied on his fastball and changeup, and was able to mix up his pitches better than he has in the past this season. Matt Thornton and Pedro Beato each pitched scoreless innings of relief to close out the win.

The offense got going right away as Mike Napoli doubled home Shane Victorino in the first inning and then David Ortiz blasted a two-run home run in the third inning to give the Sox a quick 3-0 lead. They added two insurance runs in the eighth on a two-RBI single from Jarrod Saltalamacchia. As a team they finished with ten hits, led by Ortiz who went 4-for-4 as well as Napoli, Saltalamacchia and Jacoby Ellsbury who all had two hits in the win.

Boston will return home for their makeup game with the Rays after last Thursday’s game was postponed. Felix Doubront will take on David Price, the same matchup as last Wednesday, with first place in the AL East again on the line.

What they’ll be saying: After losing the first game Friday night and not being in first place for the first time since late May, things could have gone from bad to worse for the Red Sox, but they pulled together once again and won two straight games over a tough Orioles team. The Sox also got some help from the Yankees with a walk-off win over the Rays on Sunday to allow the Red Sox to move back into first place … Lester may be turning a corner as this was his third consecutive start of going at least six innings and allowing three runs or less. The eight strikeouts matched a season-high as he’s done it four times this year, including in his last start last week against the Rays.


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