for this game

Lester strong in postseason tune-up

Sep 26, 2008 - 3:55 AM By Mike Petraglia PA SportsTicker Contributing Writer

BOSTON (Ticker) -- The Boston Red Sox continue to keep alive their slim American League East Division title hopes.

Jon Lester was strong in his final postseason tune-up while Jacoby Ellsbury and Jed Lowrie each scored twice at the top of the order as the Red Sox beat the Cleveland Indians, 6-1, at Fenway Park on Thursday.

Kevin Youkilis added his team-leading 28th homer in the seventh as Boston won three of the four games against Cleveland and will close the regular season with a three-game series against the rival New York Yankees beginning Friday.

With Tampa Bay (96-63) dropping a 7-5 decision earlier in the day in Detroit, Boston (94-65) drew within two games of the first-place Rays with three games remaining for each club.

Since Tampa Bay owns the tiebreaker because of its season-series win, Boston must win its remaining games while hoping the Rays lose their final three against the Tigers.

"You're going out there still trying to win baseball games, regardless of what's at stake," Red Sox left fielder Jason Bay said. "A lot of it is out of our control, being that if they win one game, it's really irrelevant. You still go out there and win as many games as possible. Until it's set in stone, it's not set in stone. Like being one game away, it's highly unlikely, but it's still there."

Lester will likely be one of the top three starters for the Red Sox in their playoff rotation, joining Josh Beckett and Daisuke Matsuzaka.

"I'm not really worried about (postseason rotation)," Lester said. "We've got four other good starters and whatever game they give me the ball, I'm going to go out there and try to give them a quality start, just like I've tried to do all year. That's all I'm worried about."

Lester (16-6), who threw a no-hitter against Kansas City here on May 19, held the Indians hitless over the first five innings before allowing a leadoff double in the sixth by Josh Barfield.

"He was coming out," Red Sox manager Terry Francona said. "I told him that was the first time I've ever rooted against him. The only way you're going to see something like that would've had to have been a group effort."

"Just keep throwing strikes," Lester added. "I'm not really worried about (a no-hitter). It's one of those things, kind of like last time, if it's going to happen, it's going to happen. I knew that Tito (Francona) was going to have a short leash on me. I just had to go out there and keep pounding the zone."

Lester allowed one run and one hit in six frames, walking one while striking out four.

Lester not only set a career-high with 16 wins but finished the season with 210 1/3 innings pitched, the highest total in his career. His 16 wins are the most by a Boston lefthander since Bruce Hurst won 18 in 1988.

"I think 200 innings (means more)," Lester said. "For me, I associate that with guys like a Beckett, Andy Pettitte, Roger Clemens. Guys that are pretty much horses for the team. They're going to go out there, pound the strike zone, and give you good efforts every night. To me, that's kind of an honor to get up to that number. That means you're going deep into ballgames and not throwing a lot of pitches."

He hit a batter, committed a balk and threw a wild pitch in winning his fourth game in five decisions this month.

"Lester was really good," Cleveland manager Eric Wedge said. "He had it all going. He was throwing his fastball 96, 97 miles per hour, throwing his cutter 92, 93. He'd pull the string on a changeup every now and again. He moved it up and down, in and out. He was as good a lefthander as we've seen all year. He was outstanding."

Justin Masterson, Hideki Okajima and Jonathan Papelbon each threw a scoreless inning of relief.

The Red Sox broke out in the first against Jeremy Sowers (4-9) for three runs. Dustin Pedroia and Jason Varitek each had sacrifice flies, while Mark Kotsay drove in the third run with a double.

Boston added two more in the second, when Lowrie doubled home Ellsbury and Youkilis added a run-scoring single to left-center.

Sowers allowed five runs and seven hits in six innings, snapping his personal two-game winning streak.

"He was erratic with his fastball early on," Wedge said of his starter. "They got to him. He left some balls up on the plate. Then he found it. To get us through the sixth inning after he settled down after the first two, not letting them score after that, it gave us a chance to stay in the ballgame."

Pedroia singled in the fifth for his 211th hit, passing Wade Boggs for the fifth-highest single-season total in team history.

Gil Velazquez made his major league debut for Boston in the sixth, when he pinch-ran and stayed in the game at shortstop for Alex Cora, who left after getting hit by a fastball from Sowers.

Cora is day-to-day with a bruised right hip.








  • AL
    FINAL
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 R H E
    - - - - - - - - - - - -
    CLEVELAND 0 0 0 0 0 1 0 0 0 1 2 1
    BOSTON 3 2 0 0 0 0 1 0 x 6 8 0 (FINAL)

    BATTERIES: CLE - JEREMY SOWERS, TOM MASTNY (7TH) AND KELLY SHOPPACH
    BOS - JON LESTER, JUSTIN MASTERSON (7TH), HIDEKI
    OKAJIMA (8TH), JONATHAN PAPELBON (9TH) AND JASON VARITEK


    Sep 25 9:36 PM


  • AL
    AT BOSTON - SCORING UPDATE
    SOLO HOME RUN BY KEVIN YOUKILIS (28) TO LEFT WITH 2 OUT IN
    THE 7TH OFF TOM MASTNY.
    CURRENT SCORE: CLEVELAND 1, BOSTON 6
    DUE UP FOR BOSTON: J BAY (.302, 0-FOR-1, 2 BB)

    Indians 1, Red Sox 6  Bot 7, 0 OutsSep 25 9:12 PM


  • AL
    AT BOSTON - SCORING UPDATE
    SINGLE BY JAMEY CARROLL SCORED JOSH BARFIELD.
    SITUATION: 1 RUN IN, J CARROLL ON FIRST, 1 OUT
    CURRENT SCORE: CLEVELAND 1
    BOSTON 5 TOP, 6TH
    DUE UP FOR CLEVELAND: B FRANCISCO (.268, 0-FOR-2)

    Indians 1, Red Sox 5  Top 6, 0 OutsSep 25 8:43 PM
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    RUWTbot Added 43 roots (No-hitter)

    Indians 0, Red Sox 5  Top 5, 0 OutsSep 25 8:19 PM


  • AL
    AT BOSTON - SCORING UPDATE
    SINGLE BY KEVIN YOUKILIS SCORED JED LOWRIE.
    SITUATION: 2 RUNS IN, K YOUKILIS ON FIRST, 2 OUT
    CURRENT SCORE: CLEVELAND 0
    BOSTON 5 BOTTOM, 2ND
    DUE UP FOR BOSTON: J BAY (.303, 0-FOR-0, BB)

    Indians 0, Red Sox 5  Bot 2, 0 OutsSep 25 7:47 PM


  • AL
    AT BOSTON - SCORING UPDATE
    DOUBLE BY JED LOWRIE SCORED JACOBY ELLSBURY.
    SITUATION: 1 RUN IN, J LOWRIE ON SECOND, 1 OUT
    CURRENT SCORE: CLEVELAND 0
    BOSTON 4 BOTTOM, 2ND
    DUE UP FOR BOSTON: D PEDROIA (.325, 0-FOR-0, SF, RBI)

    Indians 0, Red Sox 4  Bot 2, 0 OutsSep 25 7:43 PM


  • AL
    AT BOSTON - SCORING UPDATE
    DOUBLE BY MARK KOTSAY SCORED KEVIN YOUKILIS.
    SITUATION: 3 RUNS IN, M KOTSAY ON SECOND, J BAY ON THIRD, 2 OUT
    CURRENT SCORE: CLEVELAND 0
    BOSTON 3 BOTTOM, 1ST
    DUE UP FOR BOSTON: J BAILEY (.286, 2 HR, 6 RBI)

    Indians 0, Red Sox 3  Bot 1, 0 OutsSep 25 7:23 PM


  • AL
    AT BOSTON - SCORING UPDATE
    SACRIFICE FLY BY JASON VARITEK SCORED JED LOWRIE.
    SITUATION: 2 RUNS IN, J BAY ON FIRST, K YOUKILIS ON THIRD, 2 OUT
    CURRENT SCORE: CLEVELAND 0
    BOSTON 2 BOTTOM, 1ST
    DUE UP FOR BOSTON: M KOTSAY (.213, 0 HR, 11 RBI)

    Indians 0, Red Sox 2  Bot 1, 0 OutsSep 25 7:22 PM


  • AL
    AT BOSTON - SCORING UPDATE
    SACRIFICE FLY BY DUSTIN PEDROIA SCORED JACOBY ELLSBURY.
    SITUATION: 1 RUN IN, J LOWRIE ON FIRST, 1 OUT
    CURRENT SCORE: CLEVELAND 0
    BOSTON 1 BOTTOM, 1ST
    DUE UP FOR BOSTON: K YOUKILIS (.312, 27 HR, 111 RBI)

    Indians 0, Red Sox 1  Bot 1, 0 OutsSep 25 7:14 PM
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