On Saturday afternoon, he'll have a chance to put the two together as he looks to propel the Boston Red Sox to a second straight victory.
Lester (6-1, 3.15 ERA), making his first home start against the Indians (27-20) since August 4, 2010, has been dominant at Progressive Field. He is 3-0 with a 1.04 ERA versus Cleveland since the 2011 season, striking out 33 in 26 innings. That includes a start on April 18, in which he surrendered two runs and four hits over seven innings of a 6-3 victory.
The left-hander has also seemingly solved last season's woes at Fenway. In 2012, he posted a 6.31 ERA at home, as opponents hit .302 off of him. This season, he has recorded a 1.66 ERA in Boston, allowing 12 hits over 21 2-3 innings. In his last home start, he retired the first 17 hitters before ultimately finishing with a one-hitter in a 5-0 win over Toronto."My job was easy. I put the glove there and he hit it," catcher Jarrod Saltalamacchia said. "I don't think whoever we were facing could have hit him."
Lester wasn't so good in his last start, however, as he gave up six runs in six innings of a 6-4 defeat to the Chicago White Sox on Monday. After winning Lester's first five starts of the season, Boston has won just two of his last five.
Lester will face a familiar foe in Cleveland's Nick Swisher , who has 15 hits off him in 49 career at-bats. Only Derek Jeter has more hits off the Boston lefty. Swisher will look to provide some pop for an Indians offense that has two home runs in its last four games after hitting 10 during a five-game winning streak.
After batting .203 with six extra-base hits while losing three of four, Boston (29-20) scored eight runs Friday for its highest total since last Saturday.
That offense came in spite of the absence of Will Middlebrooks and Shane Victorino , who were both placed on the 15-day disabled list Friday. Mike Carp provided the biggest hit with a three-run homer in the second inning, breaking an 0-for-21 slump."It definitely means a lot," Carp said. "I've been struggling for playing time and to have a big at bat like that it builds confidence heading into the next couple days."
The Red Sox will look to keep up their momentum against struggling Scott Kazmir (2-2, 6.35), who has posted a 10.13 ERA over his last two starts.
He lasted a season-low three-plus innings against Seattle on Monday, yielding five runs and seven hits but escaped without a decision in a wild 10-8 win.
"The last two just didn't really go my way," Kazmir told the Indians' official website. "I never really got into a groove."
Kazmir has plenty of experience against Boston. His 139 2-3 innings against the Red Sox are by far his most against any team. He has a 4.06 lifetime ERA versus Boston.
|May 01, 2013||Vinnie Pestano||15-Day DL||Right elbow tendinitis|
|May 01, 2013||Vinnie Pestano||15-Day DL||Right elbow soreness|
|April 30, 2013||Nick Swisher||Day-to-Day||Sore left shoulder|
|April 25, 2013||Lou Marson||15-Day DL||Right shoulder soreness|
|April 20, 2013||Asdrubal Cabrera||Day-to-Day||Left game - left wrist contusion|
|April 20, 2013||Brett Myers||15-Day DL||Right elbow inflammation|
|Boston Red Sox|
|May 24, 2013||Will Middlebrooks||15-Day DL||Low back strain|
|May 23, 2013||Will Middlebrooks||Day-to-Day||Left game - lower back spasms|
|May 21, 2013||Shane Victorino||15-Day DL||Left hamstring strain|
|May 20, 2013||Shane Victorino||Day-to-Day||Left game - Left hamstring tightness|
|May 12, 2013||David Ross||7-Day DL||Concussion|
|May 12, 2013||David Ross||7-Day DL||Concussion|
BOSTON (AP) -- The Red Sox and Indians exchanged nearly as many mistakes as runs for seven innings before a string of clutch hits and a friendly gust of wind helped Boston build the decisive rally.
Pinch-hitter Mike Carp drove in the tying run with an eighth-inning double and then scored on a double by Dustin Pedroia to lead the Red Sox past Cleveland 7-4 on Saturday.
Trailing 4-3 entering the bottom of the eighth, Boston scored four times off reliever Vinnie Pestano (1-1) to open the largest lead in a game that featured plenty of chances at the plate but little success for either club.
"It's big," said Carp, who broke out of an 0-for-21 skid on Friday night with a three-run homer in Boston's 8-1 win. "I was in a little bit of a slump. To be able to come out of that and win the ballgame, it means a lot."
Pedro Ciriaco had three hits, including a one-out double that started Boston's rally in the eighth. After Pestano struck out Jacoby Ellsbury for the second out, Carp batted for Jonny Gomes and lifted a first-pitch fastball to left for a double that easily scored Ciriaco.
Pedroia followed with a shot high off the Green Monster, giving Boston its first lead of the game.
"This was a very good team win and we got contributions from a lot of guys," manager John Farrell said.
After Pedroia's hit, the Indians walked David Ortiz intentionally and Mike Napoli followed with a walk to load the bases. Daniel Nava hit a high popup to shallow left field, but the blustery wind turned a routine out into a bloop single and two RBIs.
"There were a couple of balls that were Fenway fly balls. I think the wind plays a factor, and The Wall. There's a lot of things going on out there. That's just a part of this ballpark," said Cleveland manager Terry Francona , who spent eight seasons in Boston. "The wind brought it back 20 feet and it ends up being in no-man's land."
Junichi Tazawa (4-2) struck out two in a hitless eighth and Andrew Bailey got three outs for his sixth save in seven chances.
Boston starter Jon Lester struck out a season-high eight in seven innings. He also hit a batter with a pitch as Cleveland scored twice to take a 3-1 lead in the third, then threw a costly wild pitch in the seventh.
Mike Aviles and Asdrubal Cabrera hit back-to-back singles in the seventh, then Lester allowed the go-ahead run with a wild pitch to Mark Reynolds that skipped past catcher David Ross . Lester ended up striking out, but Cleveland had regained the lead at 4-3.
"It didn't even make it to the plate. I didn't even give Rossy a chance to block it," Lester said. "I was on the same page as him, just trying to bury a curveball."
Cabrera had three hits, stole two bases, drove in a run and scored another for the Indians, who lost for the fourth time in five games. Nick Swisher added an RBI double and Carlos Santana a run-scoring single.
Scott Kazmir pitched five innings and struck out six for Cleveland. He gave up two runs, five hits and four walks.
"I thought he had to dodge traffic all day and make some really big pitches. They made him work from the first inning on, but he continued to make pitches," Francona said. "As a team today we just gave them extra opportunities and they took advantage."
Ciriaco had an RBI single in the second and Gomes' sacrifice fly tied it at 3 in the sixth after an error by Reynolds at third base. Jose Iglesias singled and Ciriaco followed with a bunt that Reynolds barehanded cleanly, but he rushed his throw and the ball skipped out of play, allowing both runners to advance.
NOTES: The four-game series concludes Sunday with Cleveland RHP Corey Kluber (2-3) facing LHP Felix Doubront (3-2). ... SS Stephen Drew sat out for Boston, still sore from a slide he made last weekend in Minnesota, Farrell said. ... Francona said before the game he was thankful general manager Chris Antonetti traveled with the club as Francona made his return to Boston, where he managed the Red Sox for eight seasons and won two World Series titles. "It meant a lot to me," said Francona, who was welcomed back with a standing ovation Thursday night in the series opener. "I know he came up for moral support because I had some anxiety." ... Cleveland DH Jason Giambi , hitless in his last 26 at-bats, did not play.