Jon Lester ‘Still a Work in Progress,’ But Red Sox’ Offense Bails Out Southpaw With Big Game

Jon LesterJon Lester should buy the Red Sox’ offense a round.

Lester, who entered Friday’s game winless in his last six starts, had another tough night on the mound, yet he earned his first victory since May 15 because Boston’s bats were relentless. The Red Sox banged out 17 hits en route to a 10-6 victory over the Tigers.

“We did a number of things tonight,” manager John Farrell said after the win. “I thought we executed two or three hit-and-runs very well. I thought we ran the bases extremely well and just had a good overall plan against [Doug] Fister, who has come into this game throwing the ball well — a guy that’s very difficult to run on. But when you consider [Shane] Victorino getting us started with the solo home run [in the first inning] and just an outstanding night on his part, Stephen Drew with a couple of base hits [and Jose Iglesias] with three more, just up and down the lineup [it was] a very good offensive night.”

Victorino, who kicked his night off with his third home run of the season, led the offensive assault with four hits and five RBIs. Jacoby Ellsbury also provided a spark at the top of the order with two hits, including a two-run single, and Drew and Iglesias took care of business at the bottom of the order with two hits and three hits, respectively.

The Red Sox certainly needed the offense, as Lester nearly let an early lead slip away. The Sox held a 6-1 advantage after posting a four-run fourth inning, but the Tigers’ offense responded with a four-run fifth. Andy Dirks smacked a solo homer, and Miguel Cabrera — who Lester described as being on a “whole other playing field” — drilled a three-run homer to cut the deficit to one.

The Red Sox did what they’ve done all season, though. They helped out a struggling teammate. And on a night when Lester once again didn’t have his best stuff, Boston’s offense did enough damage to still grab a victory.

“Tonight was a good one for us to come back and get that W. Whichever way it is, a W’s a W. You have to look at it like that, and like I said, the offense picked me up,” Lester said. “That was huge, [to] score a bunch of runs and get one in the win column against this team is good.”

Detroit’s big fifth inning continued a trend of Lester imploding for at least one frame a game, but the southpaw found himself in some trouble throughout the entire night. He surrendered five runs on nine hits and three walks over 5 2/3 innings.

If Lester continues to pitch like he did on Friday, he’ll probably lose more often than not. He finally — with plenty of help — got that elusive win, though, so perhaps a weight has been lifted.

“The main thing is a win — a win for him, a win for us,” Farrell said. “He’s still a work in progress. I thought there were a couple of innings inside the five-plus innings of work that were much more crisp and sharp, and yet the first-pitch changeup to Cabrera for the three-run homer — obviously he’s capable of doing that — but I think the fact that Jon gets a win out of this, hopefully it allows him to take a breath a little bit and continue to move forward.”

Lester needs to move forward. The next round’s on him.

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