July 23, 2013

MLB: Lester pitches Red Sox to big win

 BOSTON (AP) — Jon Lester matched his season high with eight strikeouts and overcame homers by Wil Myers and Evan Longoria as the Boston Red Sox remained in first place with a 6-2 win over the Tampa Bay Rays on Tuesday night.

The Red Sox moved 1½ games ahead of the Rays in the AL East and stayed atop the division for the 58th consecutive day.

The loss ended the Rays' six-game winning streak and was just their third in 21 games, a surge that began when they were in fourth place, trailing the Red Sox by seven games.

Boston is 3-4 since its four-game winning streak.

Lester (9-6) gave up two runs and seven hits with no walks in 6 1-3 innings. He is 3-6 with a 5.97 ERA since starting the season 6-0 with a 2.72 ERA. Four Red Sox pitchers combined for 13 strikeouts.

Roberto Hernandez (5-11) allowed three runs in five innings and tied R.A. Dickey for the second-most losses in the AL. But it was the 28th time in Tampa Bay's last 31 games that its starter gave up three runs or fewer.

Boston led 3-2, then scored three runs in the eighth on an RBI single by Stephen Drew and a two-run single by Jose Iglesias.

Myers' fifth homer of the season on the first pitch of the second inning gave the Rays a 1-0 lead. The Red Soxtied it in the bottom half on a run-scoring single by Mike Carp.

They went ahead 2-1 in the third on a double steal. Shane Victorino led off with a double and went to third on a flyout by Daniel Nava. Dustin Pedroia was hit by a pitch, then stole second as catcher Jose Molina threw down and Victorino scored.

The Red Sox had left runners at third base in three straight innings before Pedroia gave them a 3-1 lead with a sacrifice fly in the fifth.

The Rays got another leadoff homer off Lester in the sixth when Longoria hit his 21st on the second pitch, cutting the lead to 3-2.

NOTES: Myers missed the previous two games with a sore left wrist. He is 16 for 32 in his last eight games. ... Rays 1B James Loney's single in the second was the 1,000th hit of his career. ... Pedroia was the only RedSox batter who went hitless. ... Boston is 10-4 against Tampa Bay and has clinched the 19-game season series. The last time the Red Sox won the season series over the Rays was 2007. ... Alex Torres pitched two scoreless innings and has allowed one run in 30 1-3 innings for the Rays. ... David Price (4-5) pitches for the Rays against Felix Doubront (7-3) in the third game of the four-game series. ... Boston CF Jacoby Ellsbury got the night off. He leads the majors with a .370 batting average since May 26.

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