Jon Lester Helps Red Sox Gain Series Split in New York

Jon Lester Helps Red Sox Gain Series Split in New York NEW YORK — Final, Red Sox 2-1: The Yankees get the tying run to second base with just one out but again fail to get the big hit and the Red Sox leave town with a split. All things considered they have to be pretty pleased with that.

Jon Lester gets his first win of the second half with 6 1/3 scoreless innings. The difference on the board is a J.D. Drew RBI groundout all the way back in the second.

The Yankees left 11 on base.

Heading down to get reaction. Will have plenty more for you later on.

Mid 9th, Red Sox 2-1: This remains a one-run game due to a fantastic play by third baseman Ramiro Pena to end the ninth. He dove to his glove side to rob Marco Scutaro of a single to left. With Jacoby Ellsbury running from second it had the makings of an insurance run.

You could make a case that these last three outs will be the difference between remaining in the division race or not. Pretty big inning for Jonathan Papelbon here.

Papelbon will face Curtis Granderson and then the top of the order.

5:21 p.m.: Jacoby Ellsbury has stolen a career-high four bases. He has tied NESN's own Jerry Remy for the Red Sox record.

End 8th, Red Sox 2-1: The Yankees get the big bomb by Mark Teixeira but waste another scoring chance later in the inning. Jonathan Papelbon needs only one pitch to get Austin Kearns on a grounder to second. New York has left five on in the last two innings.

Joba Chamberlain will pitch the ninth against the bottom of the Red Sox' order.

5:07 p.m.: Mark Teixeira crushes a Daniel Bard offering to get the Red Sox on the board and the Yankees have two on with two outs. Jonathan Papelbon has taken over four a big four-out save opportunity. He will face Austin Kearns.

Bard just tied his longest outing of the season in terms of pitches thrown with 29. He was just about out of gas but ends it on a good note, getting Lance Berkman to pop to left for the second out.

Mid 8th, Red Sox 2-0: Joba Chamberlain gets two outs on two pitches to finish the top of the eighth. Daniel Bard heads out there to face Mark Teixeira, Alex Rodriguez and Robinson Cano in the bottom half.

4:44 p.m.: David Ortiz flies to center against Boone Logan, who got his man. Joba Chamberlain is the fourth pitcher of the afternoon for the Yankees.

End 7th, Red Sox 2-0: That's how you spell relief. Daniel Bard throws six straight fastballs 98 mph or higher to strike out Derek Jeter and Nick Swisher and leave the bases loaded.

The Red Sox are pretty fortunate to still be ahead. Following Jorge Posada's leadoff single, Marcus Thames hit a drive that landed on top of the wall in front of the New York bullpen before bouncing straight up and coming back into play.

Another few inches and this would be a tie game. Instead the Yanks have missed a golden opportunity.

4:33 p.m.: Jon Lester's 99th pitch is his last. With the bases loaded on two hits and a hit batter he strikes out Curtis Granderson before giving way to Daniel Bard. Derek Jeter is up in a pivotal moment.

Mid 7th, Red Sox 2-0: Jacoby Ellsbury has matched a career high with three stolen bases and the  Red Sox have five as a team off Jorge Posada. They leave Ellsbury and Drew in scoring position when Victor Martinez strikes out against Kerry Wood.

Ellsbury last had three steals on May 2, 2009, at Tampa Bay.

End 6th, Red Sox 2-0: Grounder to short for one out. Grounder to short for the second out. Grounder to short for the third out. Pretty easy sixth inning for Jon Lester against the likes of Mark Teixeira, Alex Rodriguez and Robinson Cano.

Kerry Wood has taken over for Phil Hughes, who gave up two runs on six hits (five in the first 1 2/3 innings).

Mid 6th, Red Sox 2-0: With Kerry Wood warming in the Yankees bullpen Phil Hughes finishes off a 1-2-3 inning for the third time in the last four frames. He may be done after 114 pitches. If so, he retired 14 of the last 15.

End 5th, Red Sox 2-0: Austin Kearns gets the first hit off Jon Lester with one out in the fifth. Derek Jeter gets the second with two outs. Lester then picks up his fifth strikeout by throwing high heat by Nick Swisher.

Mid 5th, Red Sox 2-0: Phil Hughes had set down 10 in a row prior to Victor Martinez's double in the fifth. David Ortiz then got sawed off on a weak comebacker and Hughes is through five.

Aside from a handful of soft hits early the Red Sox have not done much against Hughes. It's a good thing they bunched those hits together.

The Yankees' righty is up to 97 pitches.

End 4th, Red Sox 2-0: Jon Lester has walked a batter in each of the last three innings but the Yankees have yet to get a hit.

Lester's big obstacle is the sixth inning, when his ERA for the year is 6.27. For some reason he struggles at that point in the game. Interestingly enough he has yet to give up a run in the seventh inning all year.

Mid 4th, Red Sox 2-0: I went to grab a Pepsi and by the time I was done filling it the Red Sox were retired in the fourth. Much of that had to do with the guy making a "Graveyard" in front of me, but it was a quick inning nonetheless. Phil Hughes threw just six pitches.

If you don't know what a "Graveyard" is then you missed out on Little League. Combine all carbonated beverages in one drink, stick some Big League Chew in your back pocket and you were all set back then.

End 3rd, Red Sox 2-0: Jon Lester lost the strike zone for a bit there. He threw six of the first seven pitches of the third inning for balls, walking Austin Kearns and falling behind Curtis Granderson.

A fly to center and two groundouts do the trick and Lester is through three in fine fashion.

Mid 3rd, Red Sox 2-0: Phil Hughes settles things down in the third by working through the heart of the Boston lineup in quick fashion. Mike Lowell gave one a ride that was tracked down in left-center field by Curtis Granderson for the last out.

End 2nd, Red Sox 2-0: All three outs in the bottom of the second were recorded at second base. Following a leadoff walk to Alex Rodriguez, Jon Lester got three consecutive force outs to sail through middle portion of the Yankees lineup.

Mid 2nd, Red Sox 2-0: Label Terry Francona a genius. Jacoby Ellsbury snaps an 0-for-23 streak (0-for-16 since coming off the DL) with a single from the ninth spot in the lineup, one of five hits the Red Sox have off of Phil Hughes.

Ellsbury also had his first stolen base since April 11. It was one of two steals in the inning — Ryan Kalish had the other.

Boston kind of nickel-and-dimed Hughes in the second. None of their three singles were hit hard. The first run scored when Bill Hall drove in Kalish with a ball that Derek Jeter fielded in shallow left. The second came in on J.D. Drew's RBI groundout.

Still, Hughes has already thrown 57 pitches on a steamy afternoon. Long wait for Jon Lester.

On a side note, there were many in Boston that felt as if Nick Swisher could not hold a candle to Kevin Youkilis in that All-Star vote last month. But in addition to having some quality numbers Swisher plays a very underrated right field. He has hurt the Red Sox in this series with his glove.

Swisher robbed Mike Lowell of a hit with a sprawling catch down the line for the first out of the second. He took an extra-base hit away from Adrian Beltre on Sunday. The catch against Lowell helped keep that from being a very big inning for Boston.

End 1st, 0-0: Jon Lester lowers his first-inning ERA to 1.57 with a perfect first. Mark Teixeira looks at a called third strike to end it.

It may not mean too much, but it's worth noting that Lester looked much more rested and ready prior to this one than he did before the Cleveland start. He has his rest now and should be a bit stronger in this one.

Mid 1st, 0-0: J.D. Drew is now 6-for-10 against Phil Hughes after an excuse-me infield hit with one out in the first. David Ortiz is 5-for-7 vs. Hughes with a more legit single to left one out later. Adrian Beltre is 1-for-10 after striking out to strand the two runners. Staying true to form early on.

The Red Sox left nine runners on Sunday night and they are picking up right where they left off.

2:08 p.m.: The wind is blowing out strong to left, offering some relief from the heat. We are just about set to go. The temperature is 92 degrees.

1:20 p.m.: They have issued an air quality alert for the New York area. Based on some of the smells that hit me in Times Square over the weekend, that ought to be the case every day. But for Monday it's based purely on the heat. Temps have reached 90 and it may get warmer.

Terry Francona was obviously asked right away about Jacoby Ellsbury being dropped in the order. Here is some of what he said.

"Want to let him see a couple of hitters before he has to bat. The hope is he gets on and uses his speed. I hasn't happened yet. And it will."

On whether Ellsbury is pressing a bit: "I would say so."

On if the move is temporary: "We certainly would like to move him back up there because that's when we're the best team. He's just not getting on base yet."

This has happened before, as we have referenced. Late in May 2009 Ellsbury's average was near .300 but he had drawn only a handful of walks and his on-base percentage was at .332. He was moved from first to eighth in the order around Memorial Day and from then until the All-Star break he batted eighth, seventh, sixth, and second, but barely saw the top spot.

By the time he was put back on top, Ellsbury had raised his OBP about 10 points and would raise it about 10 more before the season ended. Unfortunately, the Sox do not have a lot of time to wait around, so they hope this will be a quick fix. There's comfort knowing Marco Scutaro can hold down the fort.

Francona also addressed Jon Lester's struggles a bit.

"I don't think you can pinpoint one thing," Francona said. "I think it's something different each time. In Seattle he struck out 13. That's pretty good stuff.

"When things are going good you're probqably not as good as you think you are and when things are going bad…things happen. That's why over the course of the year if you're consistent you look up and you have pretty good numbers. Healthswise, the ball's coming out of his hands [well]. Hopefully today's the day when he dials one up."

Lester, of course, had the leg cramps his last time out, was thrown off a bit due to the birth of his first child and has been hurt a bit by defense, including his own. He has allowed four unearned runs because of the errors over his last four starts.

In other news:

– Jed Lowrie was given a second straight day off for two reasons. One, Francona figures to play him two or maybe even all three games in Toronto and the infielder could use the rest before that series. Two, Bill Hall swung a pretty good bat Sunday night, going 3-for-4 with his 13th home run.

"We knew when Jed came up we were going to have to monitor how much he played," Francona said.

– The flip-flop of David Ortiz and Victor Martinez in the lineup is simply a matter of spacing the lefties. The Yankees have just one left-hander in their bullpen (Boone Logan, who pitched 1 1/3 innings Sunday night) so keeping Ortiz and J.D. Drew separated in the lineup made sense.

Francona: "Kind of silly to make it too easy on them."

Back with more in a bit.

11:09 a.m.: Greetings from Yankee Stadium, where it's expected to get into the lower 90s this afternoon. Better get some fluids in Jon Lester. We don't want a repeat of his last start. The Red Sox lineup is in and as we speculated Sunday, Jacoby Ellsbury has been dropped out of the leadoff spot.

Here is the full starting lineup:

Marco Scutaro, SS
J.D. Drew, RF
Victor Martinez, C
David Ortiz, DH
Adrian Beltre, 3B
Mike Lowell, 1B
Ryan Kalish, LF
Bill Hall, 2B
Jacoby Ellsbury, CF

8 a.m.: Jon Lester has lost four straight starts. The Red Sox have dropped two in a row to the New York Yankees.

Boston hopes both streaks end Monday when it goes for a series split against the Yankees in an afternoon affair.

Since the All-Star break Lester is 0-4 with a 4.39 ERA. He left his previous start with leg cramps.

Phil Hughes will go for New York, which now owns a seven-game lead on Boston in the American League East.

First pitch is 2:05 p.m.

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