It's time to start looking at Jon Lester as more of an ace-like pitcher again. The left-hander delivered his second straight dominant performance in the Red Sox' 4-2 win over the Dodgers Saturday afternoon at Dodger Stadium.
Lester went 7 1/3 innings allowing one run on three hits while striking out six, but walked four, which raised his pitch count and forced him from the game in the eighth. Junichi Tazawa came on and allowed a single and recorded an out before being lifted for Craig Breslow who allowed a two-run double to Adrian Gonzalez making it 4-2. Koji Uehara entered to get the final out in the eighth and pitched a 1-2-3 ninth to pick up his 13th save.
The Red Sox scored four times in the first inning, which proved to be more than enough for Lester. Mike Napoli's two-run single opened the scoring for the Sox as Dustin Pedroia and Shane Victorino crossed the plate. The next hitter Jonny Gomes ripped a two-run home run giving the Sox a 4-0 lead before Lester even took to the mound. Napoli paced the offense with three hits, while Pedroia added two. Despite the loss, the Sox amassed 13 strikeouts as a team.
The teams will play the rubber game of the weekend series tomorrow night (8:05, ESPN) as Jake Peavy will go up against Chris Capuano.
What they'll be saying: After struggling much of the middle of the year, Lester has started to come around of late, especially since the All-Star break as in his last seven starts Lester has a 2.34 ERA, compared to a 4.58 ERA over his first 20 starts. If this trend continues and if Buchholz returns like he did to open the year, the Red Sox could be one tough out come the postseason ... Gomes continues to impress, particularly in the second half of the season, as of his 11 home runs, five have came in roughly the past month. Getting more consistent at-bats has been the key to the increase in offensive production ... Even with the win there is still concern with the set-up role as Tazawa struggled for his second straight outing and the Sox cannot find a consistent, reliable guy to pitch before Uehara.