BOSTON -- Before the game one would have expected the Red Sox to be at a distinct disadvantage going up against Cliff Lee with Ryan Dempster on the mound, coming off of his worst three starts of the season. This wasn't the case as the two went toe-to-toe in a pitcher's duel in which Lee was simply outstanding as the Phillies defeated the Red Sox 3-1 at Fenway Park Tuesday night.
Lee pitched eight innings allowing one run on four hits and struck out eight. Even more impressive was he needed just 95 pitches to do so. Dempster went seven innings allowing two runs on six hits while striking out four. It was the first time he pitched past the fifth inning since May 7.
"Tonight was a classic pitchers duel," manager John Farrell said. "Ryan Dempster was much improved over his three previous starts, much like we saw prior to that three start stretch where he was down in the zone and had good secondary stuff. We ran into a very good pitcher tonight. Cliff Lee was outstanding and stayed out of the middle of the plate. He didn't waste many pitches."
The game was tied 1-1 in the seventh inning before Dempster allowed a one-out RBI single to No. 9 hitter Erik Kratz to give the Phillies a 2-1 lead, one they would not relinquish with old friend Jonathan Papelbon coming in to earn the save in the ninth.
Offensively the Red Sox finished with just four hits and scored their lone run on a Dustin Pedroia RBI single in the first. Craig Breslow threw a scoreless eighth inning before Junichi Tazawa came in and allowed a solo home run in the ninth to Domonic Brown for the third Phillies run.
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The four-game series now shifts to Philadelphia for the final two games with John Lackey taking to the hill tomorrow night (7:05, NESN) going against Kyle Kendrick.
What they'll be saying: There wasn't much the Red Sox could do in their loss tonight as Lee was at his best. He became the first pitcher to throw eight or more innings while limiting the Sox to four hits or less at Fenway Park since James Shields in April of last year. The Red Sox just couldn't get anything going offensively and were unable to drive up Lee's pitch count, something they've done all season ... Despite suffering the loss, Dempster still pitched very well and was effective despite only getting four swings and misses on his pitches all night. Overall, despite his 2-6 record, besides the three previous starts he has been pretty good this year holding opponents to two runs or less in six of his 11 starts this season.