When Jon Lester shut down the Giants with 8.1 scoreless innings on Monday, it seemed he was breaking out of a big slump. However, Lester has been quietly dominant throughout the second half of the season and Lester continued that trend in today’s 4-2 win in Los Angeles. After allowing just one run (which was actually an inherited runner for Craig Breslow), Lester lowered his second half ERA to 2.31 and brought his season ERA down below 4.00 for the first time since June– it now stands at 3.97.
Lester also got exactly what John Lackey didn’t get in his dominant but futile effort in a 2-0 loss Friday: early run support. After Jacoby Ellsbury grounded out to begin the game, the Red Sox got a rally started. Shane Victorino was hit by a pitch, the first hit batter that Dodgers starter Hyun-Jin Ryu has allowed all year, and then Dustin Pedroia and Mike Napoli each singled to give the Red Sox a 1-0 lead. The big blow in the inning came on the short, powerful stroke of Jonny Gomes as he unloaded on a first-pitch fastball to give the Red Sox a 4-0 lead on one swing.
However, from that point on it was all up to Lester and the bullpen as the Red Sox did not score again the entire game. Lester was up to the challenge, as he went 7.1 innings, allowing 1 run on 3 hits and 4 walks, striking out 6 batters along the way. However, the bullpen was a bit shakier. Neither Junichi Tazawa or Craig Breslow was able to finish off the eighth inning, allowing two runs to score in the process, and Koji Uehara was forced to attempt the four-out save.
Of course, Uehara continued his absurd run (he has not allowed a run since June 30), escaping the eighth inning jam and setting the Dodgers down 1-2-3 in the ninth. Though the Red Sox did not score a run after the first, there was one offensive highlight in the ninth inning when top prospect Xander Bogaerts lined a Brandon League fastball into right field for his first major league hit. Bogaerts and the Red Sox will go for the series win tomorrow night, sending out Jake Peavy (9-5, 4.25) on Sunday Night Baseball against Chris Capuano (4-6, 4.70).