Red Sox-Cardinals Live: Jon Lester Starts Strong, Rubby De La Rosa Finishes Strong As Sox Win 5-3

Jon LesterFinal, Red Sox 5-3: The ninth inning was just as easy as the eighth inning for Rubby De La Rosa, and this game is over.

De La Rosa pitched a perfect ninth, and the Red Sox walk away from this one with a 5-3 victory in their pockets.

Jon Lester started the game and tossed two perfect innings. De La Rosa finished it with two perfect innings of his own. In between, Koji Uehara, Andrew Miller, Joel Hanrahan, Andrew Bailey and Junichi Tazawa each toed the rubber. Hanrahan allowed a run, and Bailey allowed the other two runs.

The Red Sox’ offense was provided via a pair of two-run innings. Daniel Nava and Mauro Gomez each had two hits, and Pedro Ciriaco had two RBIs in the win.

The Red Sox will be back in action on Monday, which will be a split squad day for the club. The Sox will face the Blue Jays in Dunedin and the Rays in Port Charlotte. Both games will start up at 1:05 p.m.

Mid 9th, Red Sox 5-3: Fernando Salas made quick work of the Red Sox in the eighth, and the Cardinals will step up to the plate in the ninth down by two runs.

In the eighth, Salas retired Jeremy Hazelbaker, Christian Vazquez and Jackie Bradley Jr. in order.

Hazelbaker dropped down a bunt, but Salas showed the value of PFP drills by taking care of business. Vazquez then popped out to the second baseman, and Bradley lined out to Adron Chambers in left field.

It looks like Rubby De La Rosa will come back on for the Red Sox in the ninth to try to close this one out.

End 8th, Red Sox 5-3: Rubby De La Rosa, who remains one of the Red Sox’ most intriguing pitchers, tossed a perfect eighth inning.

Matt Carpenter and Adron Chambers both grounded out to Deven Marrero, who just entered the game at short, and Kolten Wong grounded out to Jonathan Diaz at second.

De La Rosa’s impressive inning only adds to the buzz that’s been swirling around him at Red Sox camp. Pedro Martinez spoke glowingly of the young right-hander this week, saying De La Rosa has the potential to become one of the game’s elite players. It’ll be interesting to see how De La Rosa fits into the Red Sox’ 2013 plans. I’d be shocked, though, if you don’t see him up in Boston sooner rather than later.

Mid 8th, Red Sox 5-3: The Red Sox were able to add a little extra cushion in the eighth inning.

After Mark Hamilton started off the inning with a groundout, Eric Fornataro drilled Jonathan Diaz, who proceeded to swipe second base. Diaz then moved over to third base when Justin Henry grounded back to the mound, and he scored when J.C. Linares lined a base hit into center field.

Linares’ work with Clay Buchholz on Saturday must have helped. Linares and Mike Carp were the two hitters Buchholz faced during his two-inning simulated game.

End 7th, Red Sox 4-3: Junichi Tazawa, who was one of the Red Sox’ few bright spots last season, pitched the seventh inning. He got into some trouble, but he eventually ended the inning with the lead still intact.

J.R. Towles, who entered the game as a defensive replacement, singled in his first at-bat to lead off the inning. He would head back to the dugout soon after, though, as Oscar Taveras grounded into a force out that was nearly a double play.

The Cardinals then opted for some small ball, with Justin Christian laying down a sacrifice bunt that moved Taveras up to second base. Greg Garcia would join Taveras on the bases after earning a walk against Tazawa, but Allen Craig grounded out to Mark Hamilton at first base to end the inning.

Mid 7th, Red Sox 4-3: It’s seventh-inning stretch time at Roger Dean Stadium, and the Sox are still clinging to a one-run lead.

Boston threatened a bit in the top of the seventh, but Michael Blazek was ultimately able to keep the Sox off the board.

Brock Holt, who had been 0-for-3 with three strikeouts, led off the inning with a single, and he moved up to second two batters later when Christian Vazquez also picked up a base hit. After that, though, Blazek struck out Jackie Bradley Jr. and got Mauro Gomez to pop out to the shortstop.

Junichi Tazawa will pitch the seventh inning for the Red Sox.

End 6th, Red Sox 4-3: The Cardinals did some damage in the sixth.

After the Red Sox scored two runs in the top half of the inning, the Cards responded with two runs of their own in the home half.

Ronny Cedeno started the inning with a double to center field. He came in to score when pinch hitter Allen Craig smacked a base hit into center, trimming the Boston lead to two runs.

It wouldn’t take long before the Red Sox’ lead shrunk even more. After Matt Carpenter doubled to put runners at second and third, Adron Chambers skied a high flyball to center field that allowed both runners to tag up. That made the game 4-3.

Andrew Bailey was able to escape with a lead still intact, though. He struck out Kolten Wong, and got Ryan Jackson to fly out to end the inning.

The Red Sox made a number of substitutions before the sixth inning. Jackie Bradley Jr., Jeremy Hazelbaker, Christian Vazquez, Justin Henry and Jonathan Diaz entered the game. Mitch Maier, Daniel Nava, Ryan Lavarnway, Ryan Sweeney and Pedro Ciriaco exited.

Mid 6th, Red Sox 4-1:  The Cards made a number of substitutions in the sixth, but we’ll start with the more exciting aspects of the inning.

Ryan Lavarnway started off the frame with a base hit, and Ryan Sweeney then made his way down to first after getting plunked by the new pitcher, Sam Freeman. With runners at first and second, Mauro Gomez blooped a singled into right field to load the bases. It’s worth noting that Gomez, who is usually a free swinger, showed some good patience against Freeman.

Mark Hamilton, batting with the bases juiced, worked the count full before eventually drawing a walk, which plated Boston’s third run. The fourth run came across soon after when Pedro Ciriaco lifted a sac fly to center. Ciriaco now has two RBIs on the afternoon.

Now, for the substitutions/position changes. Matt Carpenter shifted from second base to first base. Kolten Wong, Ryan Jackson and J.R. Towles are in. Ty Wigginton, Daniel Descalso and Tony Cruz are out.

Andrew Bailey will take the hill for Boston.

End 5th, Red Sox 2-1: Boston’s pitching had been on cruise control, but the Cardinals’ bats woke up in the fifth.

Joel Hanrahan retired Ty Wigginton to begin the inning, but when he tried to get ahead of Daniel Descalso, it didn’t quite go according to plan. Descalso went deep, giving the Cardinals their first run of the afternoon.

That was the only run Hanrahan would surrender but prized prospect Oscar Taveras also hit him hard. Taveras lined a two,out, ground-rule double to right field. Given his speed, Taveras likely would have ended up on third base had the ball not hopped over the fence, so the Sox certainly caught a break there.

Hanrahan got Justin Christian to end the inning, but the Cardinals are on the board.

Mid 5th, Red Sox 2-0: It’s that time of the game. Here come the substitutions, which are a staple of spring training baseball. First, let’s take care of the action.

Edward Mujica came in to pitch for the Cardinals, and Jose Iglesias flew out to center field for the first out of the inning. Brock Holt, who came over as part of the Joel Hanrahan deal, followed up by striking out for the third time. Daniel Nava, who had been 2-for-2, put up a nice, little battle against Mujica, but he eventually popped up to Justin Christian in shallow center.

As far as subs, Adron Chambers replaced Carlos Beltran. He went in to left field, and Oscar Taveras shifted over to right field.

Joel Hanrahan will take the mound for Boston in the fifth.

End 4th, Red Sox 2-0: Andrew Miller surrendered a hit to Matt Carpenter, but he enjoyed an otherwise perfect inning.

Miller sandwiched the Carpenter hit, which ricocheted off Brock Holt’s glove, with groundouts from Rafael Furcal and Carlos Beltran. The inning ended when Miller picked off Carpenter, who was eventually tagged out after a brief rundown.

Through four innings, the Red Sox’ pitchers have faced the minimum amount of hitters.

Mid 4th, Red Sox 2-0: It was an easy inning for Tyler Lyons, who looked really good in his two innings of work.

Mark Hamilton led off the inning by hitting what had the potential to be a base hit, but Matt Carpenter made a nice, rangy play for the first out. Pedro Ciriaco then flew out to left, and Mitch Maier grounded back to the mound to end the inning.

Andrew Miller will come on to pitch for Boston.

End 3rd, Red Sox 2-0: Koji Uehara, who is one of the offseason’s most underrated signings, pitched the third inning for Boston, and he too breezed through the Cardinals’ lineup.

Uehara started his afternoon by striking out Oscar Taveras, who is ranked the No. 3 prospect in baseball by Baseball America. He then got Justin Christian to fly out to Daniel Nava in left field, and got Ronny Cedeno to pop out to Jose Iglesias at short.

Don’t look now — or look … either way — but the Red Sox have yet to give up a hit through three innings.

Mid 3rd, Red Sox 2-0: Tyler Lyons came on for the Cardinals in the third, and he kept the Red Sox off the scoreboard despite giving up a leadoff single to Daniel Nava.

Nava, who is now 2-for-2, started off the inning with the single, but Lyons settled down to retire Ryan Lavarnway, Ryan Sweeney and Mauro Gomez in order.

Lavarnway flew out to Carlos Beltran in right field for the first out, and Lyons followed that up with back-to-back strikeouts. The young lefty sat Sweeney down with a mean hook.

End 2nd, Red Sox 2-0: Lester breezed through the second inning, meaning his first spring start was perfect.

Lester retired Ty Wigginton, Daniel Descalso and Tony Cruz in order to cap off his afternoon.

Wigginton flew out to Mitch Maier in center field for the inning’s first out. Descalso chopped one down to Mark Hamilton at first, and Hamilton flipped it over to Lester after a momentary bobble for out No. 2. Cruz then took his turning flying out to Maier.

That’ll be the afternoon for Lester, and it was exactly what Red Sox fans want to see out of the left-hander as he tries to bounce back after a dismal 2012.

Mid 2nd, Red Sox 2-0: The Red Sox got the bats going in the second.

Mauro Gomez kicked off the inning by hitting one right back where it came from. Gomez then scampered over to third base on a base hit into right field by Mark Hamilton, and he came around to score the game’s first run on a single into center by Pedro Ciriaco.

It didn’t get any easier from there, as Mitch Maier worked the count full before drawing a walk to load the bases. John Farrell didn’t elect to put the runners on first and second in motion after Maier worked the count full, but obviously it didn’t matter.

Gast was able to minimize the damage by inducing a double play off the bat of Jose Iglesias, who homered in Saturday’s game. It brought home a run, but the Cardinals will gladly trade the run for outs in that situation.

Gast struck out Holt to end the inning, but the Sox are in the driver’s seat to start this one.

1:27 p.m.: The Red Sox are threatening in the second inning.

End 1st, 0-0: Jon Lester, who is scheduled to pitch two innings, got his spring off to a nice start, retiring the Cardinals in order in the first.

Lester first retired Rafael Furcal on a little popup to first baseman Mark Hamilton. He got ahead of Furcal, and then jammed him with a fastball to induce the out.

Matt Carpenter made better contact, lining one down to third base, but Pedro Ciriaco gobbled it up and fired across the diamond for the out. Lester then struck out Carlos Beltran to cap off the impressive frame.

Mid 1st, 0-0: John Gast made quick work of Brock Holt to begin the game and quickly got ahead of Daniel Nava 0-2. But Nava then worked the count and drilled one down the left-field line that resulted in a double.

Nava would end up getting stranded at third, though. Ryan Lavarnway was retired on a nice play by shortstop Ronny Cedeno, which allowed Nava to move to third, and Ryan Sweeney ended the inning by hitting a slow roller to the second baseman Matt Carpenter.

All in all, it was a nice inning for Gast, who doesn’t have any major league experience to his credit yet. Gast spent 2012 split between Double-A Springfield and Triple-A Memphis. The 24-year-old went 13-7 with a 4.09 ERA in 28 starts.

1:05 p.m.: The Cardinals have taken the field, and we’re under way in Jupiter.

12:50 p.m.: The action will be kicking off at Roger Dean Stadium very soon, so it’s time to pass along a few pregame notes.

First and foremost, Mike Napoli took another step forward on Sunday. He did a series of baserunning drills for the first time since arriving to Red Sox camp, so he’s inching his way closer to game action. Napoli, who was diagnosed with avascular necrosis in his hips, said he didn’t give it a full go on Sunday, but he was pleased overall with the results.

“It feels good. I expect to be fine,” Napoli told reporters. “I’m just going through the steps of what they want me to do. I’m fine with it. As long as I’m ready for Opening Day, which I should be easily. It’s a long spring and I’ll just get myself in shape and be ready to go.”

Clay Buchholz, who threw 37 pitches during a two-inning simulated game on Saturday, is expected to toss another simulated game on Tuesday. If all goes well, he could rejoin the Red Sox’ rotation on Saturday, when Boston squares off with Minnesota.

And finally, a big happy birthday to Mike Lowell, who turned 38.

10:28 a.m.: Manager John Farrell rolled out a heavy dose of regulars against the Rays on Saturday, but he’ll turn to some more unfamiliar faces against the Cardinals on Sunday.

Brock Holt will lead off for Boston as it gets set for its second spring training game against big league competition. He’ll be followed by Daniel Nava and Ryan Lavarnway in the top three spots in the order.

Nava saw some action down at first base on Saturday and held his own. Farrell will go the more traditional route and play Nava in left field to begin the game on Sunday, but it makes sense to see how Nava can handle first base. The Red Sox made finding a left-handed hitting first baseman/outfielder hybrid a priority this offseason, as it would allow them to use that player as a backup to both Mike Napoli and Jonny Gomes. They brought in Lyle Overbay, Mike Carp, Mark Hamilton and some others to audition for the role, but having Nava — who could be the team’s fourth outfielder come Opening Day — able to play both positions as well would be an asset.

The lineups for Sunday are below.

Red Sox
Brock Holt, 2B
Daniel Nava, LF
Ryan Lavarnway, C
Ryan Sweeney, RF
Mauro Gomez, DH
Mark Hamilton, 1B
Pedro Ciriaco, 3B
Mitch Maier, CF
Jose Iglesias, SS

Jon Lester, P

Cardinals
Rafael Furcal, DH
Matt Carpenter, 2B
Carlos Beltran, RF
Ty Wigginton, 1B
Daniel Descalso, 3B
Tony Cruz, C
Oscar Taveras, LF
Justin Christian, CF
Ronny Cedeno, SS

John Gast, P

8 a.m. ET: The Red Sox dropped their first spring training game against major league competition on Saturday at JetBlue Park. They’ll look to bounce back on Sunday when they travel to Jupiter — Fla., not the planet — to take on the St. Louis Cardinals.

Jon Lester is expected to get the start for Boston, with Rubby De La Rosa, Junichi Tazawa, Joel Hanrahan, Andrew Bailey, Andrew Miller and Koji Uehara all expected to come on in relief. It’ll be Lester’s first start of the spring.

This year as a whole will be huge for the 29-year-old lefty. Not only is Lester looking to bounce back after a disappointing 2012 season, but he’ll also be looking to prove that he deserves to get paid like a front-end starter. Lester said recently that he hasn’t yet discussed a possible extension with the Sox, but that could all change before long.

Sunday’s first pitch is scheduled for 1:05 p.m. Be sure to check back with NESN.com throughout the morning and afternoon for all sorts of fun updates.

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