BOSTON — The Red Sox discovered a winning formula Thursday.
Jon Lester pitched into the eighth inning and Boston’s offense finally produced some timely hits as the Red Sox began their seven-game homestand with a 5-2 win over the Cleveland Indians at Fenway Park.
The Red Sox still sit six games below .500 at 30-36. But given that Boston entered Thursday’s contest on the heels of a 2-7 road trip, the victory was a big one, especially since several players contributed to the cause.
Let’s go over some notes from Thursday’s series-opening win over the Tribe.
– Lester got off to a nice start, minimized the damage in key spots and ultimately lasted 7 2/3 innings in which he allowed two runs (one earned) on eight hits. The left-hander struck out four, walked one and threw 109 pitches (72 strikes).
The effort marked the eighth time this season Lester has gone at least seven innings — the most such starts among Red Sox starters.
Lester now sits in sole possession of ninth place on the club’s all-time wins list upon earning his 107th career victory.
– The Boston offense produced 12 hits. Seven players collected at least one knock.
– Grady Sizemore put the Red Sox on the scoreboard in the second inning with an RBI double.
Sizemore’s double — a ground-rule double that bounced into the Indians’ bullpen — snapped a 3-for-23 skid for the veteran outfielder and marked his first career hit against his former team.
– David Ortiz clubbed his 15th home run of the season in the fifth inning. He joined Albert Pujols as the only players with at least 15 home runs in all 14 seasons from 2001 to 2014.
Ortiz’s 12 straight seasons of 15-plus homers with Boston ties Dwight Evans (1978-89) and Jim Rice (1975-86) for the Red Sox’s record streak.
– Daniel Nava is showing life offensively after an abysmal start to the season.
Nava went 3-for-4. He is hitting .409 (9-for-22) over his last seven games, and he has reached safely in five of his last six starts.
“To his credit, he’s made an adjustment with his setup at the plate,” Red Sox manager John Farrell said after the game. “(He’s) not as spread out, he’s on top of the baseball with more of his line drive stroke that we know him to have. He’s putting some good swings on the ball. He’s not lifting the ball as he was earlier in the season.”
– Brock Holt collected two hits, including a two-run double in the sixth inning immediately after the Indians struck for two runs.
– Jackie Bradley Jr. made a highlight-reel play in the seventh inning.
Michael Bourn drilled a ball toward the left-center field gap with a runner on first base and one out. Bradley not only made a great running catch near the wall, but he also fired an absolute dart to first base to double-up Mike Aviles.
– Koji Uehara, who worked a perfect ninth inning, has not allowed a run in his last 18 innings. He has converted 30 straight regular-season saves dating back to last year.
– Stephen Drew underwent an ultrasound on his ailing oblique Thursday. It’s still unclear whether he’ll undergo an MRI. The Red Sox plan to reevaluate him following a full day of baseball activities Friday, according to Farrell.