Jon Lester’s Gem Continues Red Sox Rotation’s Turnaround With Fourth Straight Strong Outing

Jon Lester's Gem Continues Red Sox Rotation's Turnaround With Fourth Straight Strong OutingBOSTON –– For the fourth straight game, the Red Sox' pitching staff continued its dazzling display.

And this time around, Jon Lester took center stage. With Kelly Shoppach as his backstop, Lester sparked the team's 6-1 win, going the distance while allowing just eight hits and one run –– allowed in the ninth inning –– to post his strongest start of the season.

The Red Sox have now outscored opponents 29-8 during their four-game winning streak, and Lester is sensing that the rotation is finally hitting its stride.

"When you watch your other guys as a staff, we're pretty prideful in what we try to do," Lester said. "When you start seeing guys succeed, making pitches and getting out of jams, the offense comes in and picks our guys up… that's confidence."

The pitching staff is oozing with it right now. Lester was simply the latest hurler to overdose on it.

From the first inning, Lester was locked in, working both sides of the plate with strictly fastballs. His four-seamers were so effective that he didn't need to delve into his off-speed arsenal until later in the game.

Through 3 2/3 innings, Lester was spotless. It took Ichiro Suzuki's liner to the mound to nix any notions of perfection. Despite the little blemishes, Red Sox skipper Bobby Valentine lauded Lester's performance.

"He went out, and it looked like he had a mission to accomplish and he accomplished it," Valentine said. "He was throwing all of pitches early in the game, throwing them all for strikes. He had a very confident look about himself. That's called a complete game –– when the starter starts it and then he finishes it."

In this recent stretch, all of the Red Sox pitchers have sealed the deal. It started when Clay Buchholz twirled his best outing of the season last Thursday. It continued when Felix Doubront and Daniel Bard logged quality outings.

Now, the Red Sox pitching staff –– considered a liability most of the season –– has surrendered just one run in each of the last three games. Behind the backstop, Shoppach senses some momentum.

"I said last week, we've got to get over the hump," Shoppach said. "These guys have got to start competing against one another, trying to out-do the next guy, and momentum will build. I'm a firm believer that this game starts with the guys on the mound, which is why I care so much about what's going on out on the mound."

One of the most impressive aspects of Lester's gem was that he didn't issue a single walk to the Mariners. It was the first time since August 14, 2010 that Lester didn't walk a single batter in a start.

Clearly, the dazzling displays from the pitching staff are starting to bode well for the Red Sox.

Have a question for Didier Morais? Send it to him via Twitter at @DidierMorais or send it here. He will pick a few questions to answer every week for his mailbag.

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