BOSTON — Jon Lester and the Red Sox’s offense worked in perfect harmony.
Lester, who has been victimized by a lack of run support several times this season, spoiled a good offensive performance in his previous start Saturday against the Detroit Tigers. Both Lester and the Red Sox’s offense pulled their weight Thursday, though, and the result was a 5-2 win over the Baltimore Orioles at Fenway Park to kick off Boston’s seven-game homestand.
Lester was solid, particularly early in the game, when he retired 10 of the first 11 hitters he faced. The left-hander ended up pitching into the eighth inning, allowing just two runs (one earned) on eight hits while striking out four and walking one. The victory marked the 107th win of Lester’s career, moving the 30-year-old into sole possession of ninth place on the Red Sox’s all-time list.
“Jon was strong,” Red Sox manager John Farrell said after the game. “He worked ahead in the count, the lone walk issued, he didn’t contribute to their cause. Even though they’ve got a number of left-hander hitters in that lineup, they swing the bat well against lefties. He and (catcher) David Ross once again combined to have a very good game plan executed.”
The Red Sox’s offense, which produced just one run over Boston’s previous three games, jumped in front in the second inning when Grady Sizemore lined a ground-rule double over right fielder Ryan Raburn’s head. David Ortiz added to the lead in the fifth inning with a two-run homer into the center field bleachers.
The Indians didn’t go quietly. Lester failed to catch Mike Napoli’s toss in the sixth inning while covering the bag on a diving stop by the first baseman, and Michael Brantley doubled into the left field corner, setting the stage for Jason Kipnis’ two-run single under Dustin Pedroia’s glove and into right field.
“There’s some frustration with a number of guys. Jon showed it a bit (in the sixth inning), we had a chance to talk about it, but nonetheless he came back and gets a big out to shut down that one inning,” Farrell said. “To me, that’s the most important thing — how do you respond and react to some situations that’s unfolding around him? And he did well by shutting it off.”
The Red Sox’s offense answered immediately after Lester escaped the top of the sixth with a one-run lead intact. Jonathan Herrera tripled, and Jackie Bradley Jr. walked and stole second base. Brock Holt, whose 10-game hit streak was snapped Wednesday, made it 5-2 with a two-run double to left field. That score would hold up.
Boston pounded 12 hits in the win. Seven players had at least one knock, and Pedroia was the only player in the starting lineup who didn’t reach base. The Red Sox finally produced in key spots despite squandering a few early scoring chances, evidenced by their four two-out RBIs.
“At this point, it doesn’t matter how many outs there are,” Farrell said. “RBIs, runs scored, whether it’s no outs, two outs, it was just good to get a little breathing room tonight.
“I think any time where you look at a game where we’ve scored more than four runs, there’s been some contribution by the bottom third (of the order) and that was again the case tonight.”
Lester admitted following his start Saturday against the Tigers that he “flat-out wasted” a good offensive night. On Thursday, no one wasted anything and it proved to be a winning formula.