Red Sox-Dodgers Live: Boston Beats Los Angeles 4-2 Behind Jon Lester’s Strong Effort, Jonny Gomes’ Early Home Run

Jon Lester

Final, Red Sox win 4-2: Pedroia makes the spectacular diving play up the middle to end the game, and Uehara finishes off his four-out save to give the Red Sox the win.

With the victory, Boston improves to 76-55, while the Trolley Dodgers fall to 76-53. Jon Lester (12-7) takes the win, while Hyun-jin Ryu (12-5) gets saddled with the loss. Koji Uehara pickes up his 13th save of the season.

All in all, it was just a solid performance for Jon Lester. Despite the four walks, his command was excellent most of the game, and his velocity is perhaps even better than it was during the season’s early months, as the southpaw sat around 94 mph with his straight fastball. Likewise, Uehara continues to impress, this time with his first four-out save of the season.

There are, however, a couple negatives the Red Sox can take out of this game. For one, the team’s setup corps is in disarray right now, as the team has no clear bridge from the rotation to Uehara. For another, aside from the Sox’ first inning output, the team was largely shut down on the offensive side of the ball for the second straight day. Dodger Stadium is a pitcher’s park, but it plays pretty neutral during day games.

In any case, the Red Sox get a win, and Xander Bogaerts get his first big league hit. Again, it’ll likely be the first of many to come during his career.

Well, that’s it for your NESN Red Sox live blog. We’ll be back tomorrow afternoon, though, as will your regularly scheduled live blogger, Red Sox beat writer Ricky Doyle.

Adios!

Mid 9th, Red Sox lead 4-2: It’s just been that kind of day for double plays, and Ellsbury gets caught in a mental error there. Quite frankly, I’m not exactly sure what Ellsbury was thinking on that play.

Nonetheless, the big story here is Bogaerts’ first major league hit — likely the first of many in his big league career. It was a nice bit of hitting, too; Bogaerts got a 97-mph fastball on the outside corner and just went with it into right field, hitting the ball with authority.

In any case, we head to the bottom of the ninth with the Red Sox leading 4-2, and Uehara set to try and earn a save.

End 8th, Red Sox lead 4-2: Wow, that was quite an inning (quite a long inning), and it featured three pitching changes and four pitchers total for the Red Sox: Lester, Junichi Tazawa, Craig Breslow and Koji Uehara. The end result is that the Dodgers cut Boston’s lead in half, 4-2, and Uehara will be asked to get a four-out save.

It was a bold move by Dodgers manager Don Mattingly to pinch-hit the left-handed Carl Crawford against Lester, but he works a walk and eventually comes around to score on Gonzalez’s two-run double, which also plated Yasiel Puig.

Bogaerts also ended up in the game in the double switch that brought on Breslow, but Uehara eventually ends the inning and the damage by getting A.J. Ellis to strike out swinging. He’ll have to get three outs to get the Sox a win.

For the record, Lester was pulled after throwing 101 pitches. He ends up going 7 1/3 innings, yielding just one run on four walks and three hits, striking out six. He remains in line for the win.

Mid 8th, Red Sox lead 4-0: There was certainly a lot of beard in that last half inning, with Dodgers reliever Brian Wilson facing Mike Napoli and Jonny Gomes.

Between hits by Pedroia and Napoli, and a walk to Drew, the Red Sox loaded the bases with two outs. Unfortunately, Middlebrooks strikes out to end the inning, leaving two more runners in scoring position (three total on the afternoon). So, the Red Sox certainly had an opportunity to put the game beyond reach, there, but can’t get any more runs across the plate.

End 7th, Red Sox lead 4-0: By my count, that’s the third tag-up double play the Red Sox and Lester have gotten the advantage of this game. Some might interpret that as luck, but none of those balls were hit hard, and Uribe was definitely jammed on his shot to Drew at the second base bag.

So, Lester’s shutout is preserved, and he is currently at exactly 90 pitches through seven innings. Will he get a chance to finish it off?

Mid 7th, Red Sox lead 4-0: Well, now Lester can say he’s had the honor of having a pitching change occur to pitch to him, as J.P. Howell came on after Ross popped out to begin the inning. However, he’s still looking for that first career hit, as he strikes out. At least Lester did well to lay off the 0-2 curveball.

Otherwise, the Red Sox go down in order that last half inning.

End 6th, Red Sox lead 4-0: How many different ways can you say “Jon Lester continues to pitch well”? That is the conundrum I am faced with right this moment.

Puig gets his first hit of the series, taking a hanging curveball from Lester and banging it into left field. However, he gets erased after trying to steal as he’s tagged up on Mark Ellis’ short fly ball to right field, and Gonzalez flies out to end the inning.

Continuing to track Lester’s pitch count, he’s at just 73 on the afternoon.

Mid 6th, Red Sox lead 4-0: After 89 pitches through just five innings, Ryu is done for the day, and former Cub Carlos Marmol came on to relieve him. Aside from a Jonny Gomes walk, however, the Red Sox were as successful against Marmol as they were against Ryu the previous four innings.

One note: Jonny Gomes’ stolen base appeared to be a straight steal, meaning it was his decision, alone. That was certainly an aggressive call from Gomes, who certainly isn’t known for his blazing speed. Nonetheless, with two outs and being just at first base, it was certainly a calculated gamble.

End 5th, Red Sox lead 4-0: It’s really kind of hard to describe just how free-and-easy Lester looks on the mound. Much has been made of how Lester has looked since getting nine days off surrounding the All-Star break, and to drive that point home, he’s been clocked at nearly 97 miles per hour in this one. More to the point, his mechanics just look very fluid and natural.

Again, Lester goes through the Trolley Dodgers’ lineup 1-2-3, and is still at just 65 pitches through five innings of work.

Mid 5th, Red Sox lead 4-0: Since the first inning, the Red Sox have had just two baserunners — a single by Napoli and a double by Drew. Again, Ryu sets the side down in order during that last half inning.

However, despite being just five innings into his afternoon, Ryu is already at 89 pitches (granted, 41 were in the first). So, credit the Red Sox for working counts and wearing down Ryu, which is exactly as general manager Ben Cherington designed the team’s lineup.

End 4th, Red Sox lead 4-0: Just like John Lackey a night before, Lester pitched through three innings without giving up a hit. Also like Lackey, Lester’s no-hitter was broken up by the fourth inning’s leadoff hitter, in this case Mark Ellis.

After that, however, Lester got called strike three calls on Gonzalez and Ramirez (both argued, but Iassogna appeared to make the right call both times) before the other Ellis (A.J.) took another borderline call for a walk. Again, Iassogna appeared to make the right call.

Lester then got Ethier to fly out, and still sits at just 47 pitches through four innings.

Mid 4th, Red Sox lead 4-0: I continue to be a huge proponent of Stephen Drew, specifically the fact that I believe he’s a better option at shortstop than Xander Bogaerts right now. Drew showed why he’s superior (right now) both in the field and at the plate, doubling that last half inning.

Aside from that, however, nothing doing for the Red Sox, and Ryu continues to look pretty solid since that four-run first inning.

End 3rd, Red Sox lead 4-0: Though Napoli had certainly played some first base before, this is really his first full season at the position, and it showed on that error with Hairston batting. Basically, Napoli was caught on his heels when fielding the bouncer and didn’t get his feet and momentum moving forward before trying to toss the ball to Lester.

However, Lester still looks very strong out there, and was able to pitch around the miscue without incident. On that subject, you have to like the way the Red Sox have pitched to Puig in this series, who hasn’t really had many good pitches to hit. Considering the Sox have been working consistently to the outside corner, Puig also hasn’t been able to show much power going the other way to right field.

Mid 3rd, Red Sox lead 4-0: Granted, it’s only two at-bats, but Mike Napoli looks pretty comfortable at the plate considering he hadn’t seen live pitching in a week. It looks like he has a distinct up-the-middle approach, which chances are is something he’s been working on.

However, Napoli’s hit is the only Sox baserunner since Gomes’ home run, and Ryu definitely looks to be hitting his spots better than he was in the first inning. He may be settling in.

End 2nd, Red Sox lead 4-0: That is a heck of a play for Pedroia to end the inning. The transfer of the ball from glove to hand was just incredibly fast, and a lot of infielders would try to barehand that ball.

Otherwise, Lester looks really good through two innings. He definitely seems to have regained some velocity over his past few starts, and his straight fastball has been sitting around 94 mph so far in this one. But, he’s also hitting his spots, which is probably more important.

Mid 2nd, Red Sox lead 4-0: Absolutely nothing doing in that last half inning for the Red Sox against Ryu, who go down in order.

And, since I know you’re curious, Lester has never had a hit in 35 career plate appearances. He does, however, have one walk and one RBI.

End 1st, Red Sox lead 4-0: Lester really should have gotten that 3-2 pitch to Puig to lead off the game there. Then again, as long as it’s a consistent strike zone by home plate umpire Dan Iassogna, it’s hard to complain. Anyway, it was pretty out of character to see Puig showing that kind of patience at the plate.

Lester also looked good in the first inning. Gonzalez may have hit that ball on a line, but Lester got it in on his hands, and it went weakly to Napoli.

Mid 1st, Red Sox lead 4-0: Jonny Gomes’ trademark is his patience at the plate, and he rarely swings at the first pitch. However, he saw a first pitch there that he liked from Ryu, and deposited it into the bleachers, way up into that blue L.A. sky.

Before that, it was a positive sign for the Red Sox to get an RBI single from Mike Napoli, who hadn’t played since last Friday.

In any case, after last night’s inability to put any offense together, the Red Sox will be very happy to get on the board early and put the onus on Ryu and the Dodgers to shut them down the rest of the way. Likewise, Lester will certainly be happy to be staked to the early lead.

Also: Nice try, Mark Ellis.

4:08 p.m.: We have first pitch! And for those wondering, the temperature in Los Angeles is 81 degrees and sunny (of course) with winds from the southwest at just 3 miles per hour.

4:00 p.m.: In honor of the fact that Vin Scully will be returning to the broadcast booth for a 65th season, it seems appropriate to share a couple pretty awesome tweets, courtesy of Don Orsillo:

3:40 p.m.: After playing first base in three of the Sox’ first four games on their National League, West Coast swing, David Ortiz sits on Saturday afternoon. That means Mike Napoli returns to the lineup, as do Jonny Gomes and David Ross. For the Dodgers, Yasiel Puig actually leads off the game, so that’s an interesting look for them.

Check out the lineups for both teams below:

Boston Red Sox

Jacoby Ellsbury, CF
Shane Victorino, RF
Dustin Pedroia, 2B
Mike Napoli, 1B
Jonny Gomes, LF
Stephen Drew, SS
Will Middlebrooks, 3B
David Ross, C
Jon Lester, LHP

Los Angeles Dodgers

Yasiel Puig, RF
Mark Ellis, 2B
Adrian Gonzalez, 1B
Hanley Ramirez, SS
A.J. Ellis, C
Andre Ethier, CF
Juan Uribe, 3B
Jerry Hairston Jr., LF
Hyun-jin Ryu, LHP

8 a.m. ET: The Boston Red Sox (75-55) emerged from the All-Star Break on July 19, beating the Yankees 4-2 and getting to 59-39. More than a month later, they’re still at 20 games over .500, while the Los Angeles Dodgers (76-52) are thoroughly trending upwards. So, if this weekend’s series at Chavez Ravine is a measuring stick of sorts, Boston still has much to prove.

In Friday night’s opener, the Red Sox were stumped all night by Ricky Nolasco, ultimately losing 2-0 and again making John Lackey the hard-luck loser. It won’t get any easier on Saturday afternoon for Boston, as the Trolley Dodgers trot out Korean import Hyun-jin Ryu (12-4, 2.95 ERA) to face Jon Lester (11-7, 4.09).

First pitch is scheduled for 4:05 p.m. ET, and we’ll have the starting lineups and, as Vin Scully would say, “all the stats and stories” leading up to Ryu’s first offering.