The last time Boston and San Francisco met more than three years ago, Jon Lester gave the Red Sox a victory in a marquee pitching matchup with Tim Lincecum , who ended up helping the Giants win the 2010 World Series.
Neither San Francisco nor its former Cy Young Award winner are nearly as successful heading into this meeting.
Lester opposes Lincecum again as AL East-leading Boston visits the last-place Giants in the opener of a three-game set Monday night.
These teams haven't faced each other since June 27, 2010, when Lester struck out nine and gave up one run while tossing a five-hitter in a 5-1 Boston victory at AT&T Park. He would go on to win a career-best 19 games, though the Red Sox missed the postseason for the first time in four years.
Lincecum's performance in that contest was one to forget as he allowed four runs in three innings, but his season ended soaked in champagne as the Giants won their first of two World Series in three seasons.
San Francisco (55-68) sits at the bottom of the NL West in 2013, though, with Lincecum (6-12, 4.38 ERA) having an up-and-down season. He gave up six runs in six innings of a 6-5 loss at Washington on Wednesday after going 1-1 with a 1.23 ERA over his previous three outings.
The Giants had won three straight before falling 6-5 to Miami on Sunday despite Hunter Pence hitting his first homer in 111 at-bats."The focus is on each individual at-bat, so when you don't (hit a home run) for a long time that can be frustrating, but it doesn't change the constant of being ready for the next at-bat and the next at-bat after that and trusting that eventually it will happen," Pence said. "At the end of the day, we didn't get the win."
Pence is hitting .467 during an eight-game hitting streak versus Boston (73-53), which also let a victory slip away Sunday.
Boston, which has lost four of five and leads Tampa Bay by only one game in the East, will look to bounce back with help from Lester, who has pitched well on the road since the All-Star break.
Lester (10-7, 4.31) has been solid in three of his last four starts, with the major blemish coming when he gave up six runs in 4 1-3 innings of a 7-6 loss to Arizona on Aug. 2. The other three outings came away from home as Lester went 1-1 with a 1.33 ERA.
The left-hander allowed three runs - two earned - in 6 1-3 innings of Boston's 4-3, 10-inning loss at Toronto on Wednesday.
Boston has lost five of its last seven on the road, though San Francisco has dropped 17 of 24 at home.
Red Sox first baseman Mike Napoli has missed the last two games with plantar fasciitis in his left foot and likely won't play in San Francisco. Boston plans to give Ortiz at least two starts at first against the Giants, a position he's played for only six innings this season.
|Boston Red Sox|
|August 17, 2013||Mike Napoli||Day-to-Day||Sore left foot|
|August 08, 2013||Brandon Snyder||15-Day DL||Ulnar neuritis, right elbow|
|August 05, 2013||Matt Thornton||15-Day DL||Strained right oblique|
|August 04, 2013||Matt Thornton||Day-to-Day||Right oblique soreness|
|July 19, 2013||Shane Victorino||Day-to-Day||Left game - left hamstring tightness|
|July 13, 2013||Andrew Bailey||15-Day DL||Right shoulder strain|
|San Francisco Giants|
|August 15, 2013||Sandy Rosario||Day-to-Day||Bruised sternum|
|July 31, 2013||Pablo Sandoval||Day-to-Day||Bruised right heel|
|July 30, 2013||Buster Posey||Day-to-Day||Ill|
|July 29, 2013||Tony Abreu||15-Day DL||Left knee bursitis|
|July 25, 2013||Marco Scutaro||Day-to-Day||Back soreness|
|July 21, 2013||Jeremy Affeldt||15-Day DL||Strained left groin|
SAN FRANCISCO (AP) -- If any of the tired-out Boston Red Sox needed a little energy boost after a cross-country flight, looking to Jon Lester sure did the trick.
Lester pitched into the ninth for his first victory in four tries this month, and the AL East-leading Red Sox beat the San Francisco Giants 7-0 on Monday night after flying earlier in the day.
Not that anybody seemed overly sleepy, though Dustin Pedroia was eager to get back to the team hotel for some shuteye.
"Obviously, these guys had a long day," Lester said. "For us to come with that travel schedule, which guys aren't normally accustomed to, and do what we did tonight was big for us."
Stephen Drew and Jarrod Saltalamacchia hit RBI doubles, Shane Victorino added an RBI single among his three hits and Will Middlebrooks had a sacrifice fly for Boston. The Red Sox chose to travel first thing Monday rather than late Sunday night after a 9-6 loss to the Yankees at Fenway Park.
Lester (11-7) allowed six hits, struck out three and walked two in Boston's seventh shutout. He outpitched two-time NL Cy Young Award winner Tim Lincecum (6-13) to snap a three-start winless stretch since a victory at Baltimore on July 28. Lester gave way to Brandon Workman after allowing a pair of one-out singles in the ninth.
Lincecum was done after five-plus innings and lost for the fourth time in his last five decisions. Two of his four walks were intentional free passes to Middlebrooks.
Giants pitchers had a balk, wild pitch and hit batsman in the same home game for the first time since April 10, 2010, against Atlanta.
The two clubs faced off for just their fourth series and first since Boston took two of three at AT&T Park in an injury-plagued stop. In a lengthy tribute to the Boston Marathon bombing victims before the game, players from both sides walked out of their dugouts and stood on their respective baselines in a show of solidarity and support.
Lester retired the first nine Giants in order before Andres Torres lined a single to left leading off the fourth. The Boston left-hander tossed a complete game - also against Lincecum - in his lone other start against San Francisco, a five-hitter on June 27, 2010, at AT&T Park.
He nearly did it again.
"Jon was exactly what we needed," manager John Farrell said. "We needed a strong pitching performance. On a night when we could use a guy to get deep in the game, he gave us just that. He wanted every potential to finish out that game but we had agreed that he wasn't going to go out and grind through the ninth inning just to throw a complete game. Outstanding effort on his part."
Boston staked Lester to an early lead with three runs in the second - showing no signs of being weary from a 4-hour, 12-minute game Sunday night and then the travel. Will Middlebrooks hit a sacrifice fly and a balk by Lincecum forced in another run.
"He really didn't have his good stuff, and he's been throwing the ball well," manager Bruce Bochy said. "He got some pitches up. They're a good hitting ball club and they took advantage of it."
Torres also singled in the sixth and eighth innings to finish with three of San Francisco's six hits and his first multihit game since June 29 at Colorado. The Giants, who had their own long trip home Sunday from Miami, were blanked for the 10th time.
Red Sox slugger David Ortiz went 0 for 5 with two strikeouts. Pedroia hit a ninth-inning triple and scored on Saltalamacchia's two-out double.
"We played great," Pedroia said. "Jon threw the ball, it was unbelievable. It seems like we were barely on defense."
Farrell reiterated he didn't think Ryan Dempster hit Alex Rodriguez on purpose a night earlier - and Farrell doesn't foresee any punishment from Major League Baseball.
"I don't expect them to do anything," he said. "My view is that it was not intentional."
Notes: A moment of silence and a video slideshow of still photos were held before the national anthem. The Giants wore Boston Strong patches. ... Lester is 12-5 in 24 career interleague outings. At AT&T Park, he owns a 0.52 ERA in two starts. ... Giants CF Angel Pagan , recovering from left hamstring surgery, could join Triple-A Fresno for a rehab assignment in the next few days. ... LHP Jeremy Affeldt , on the DL since July 21 with a strained left groin, is slated to throw off the mound in the coming days. ... Red Sox 1B Mike Napoli missed his third straight game with plantar fasciitis in his left foot. Manager John Farrell is optimistic he will play Tuesday. "He's responding well to treatment he's getting on his foot," Farrell said. ... Lester, Tuesday starter Jake Peavy and newly activated catcher David Ross flew out ahead of the team to the Bay Area. ... The Giants dropped to 4-11 in interleague play.