Red Sox Beat Jays, Lester Limps off in the 8th

Ken Bell

kbell@abc6.com

BOSTON (AP) — Jon Lester pitched into the eighth inning before
leaving with an apparent injury, and Dustin Pedroia homered in a
seven-run second to help the Boston Red Sox beat the Toronto Blue Jays
7-4 in the opener of a four-game series Thursday night.

Toronto,
which reeled off 11 straight wins this month, had won 12 of its past 14
games and 15 of 19 to close within 6½ games of the AL East-leading Red
Sox.

Then the Blue Jays ran into Lester.

The left-hander
retired 10 straight to begin the game and didn't allow a hit until the
fifth. He came out after giving up consecutive singles to start the
eighth and running the count to 3-0 on Emilio Bonifacio.

Red Sox
manager John Farrell came darting out of the dugout as the infielders
crowded around Lester. Moments later, Lester walked off the field and
Junichi Tazawa came on in relief.

The Blue Jays capitalized, cutting the deficit to 7-4 on a sacrifice fly by Jose Reyes and a groundout by Jose Bautista.

Koji Uehara pitched a perfect ninth for his third save.

Lester
(8-4) was charged with four runs on five hits with five strikeouts and
three walks in winning for just the second time in his last eight
starts.

After starting the season 6-0 with a 2.72 ERA through his
first nine starts, Lester struggled over his past seven, going 1-4 with a
7.30 ERA.

He returned to form just in time to face baseball's
best team in June — and Boston's bats provided him all the support he
needed.

The Red Sox jumped all over Chien-Ming Wang, tagging the right-hander for seven runs while batting around in the second.

Wang
(1-1), making his fourth start for Toronto this season, lasted just 1
2-3 innings, allowing all seven runs on six hits with two walks and no
strikeouts.

Meanwhile, Lester needed only 30 pitches to get
through three innings and didn't allow a baserunner until Bautista
walked with one out in the fourth.

Melky Cabrera singled for
Toronto's first hit with one out in the fifth and moved to second on a
base hit by Rajai Davis. Maicer Izturis drove them both home with a
double to left-center.

Yet it wasn't enough to make up for Boston's blistering start.

Wang allowed the first seven batters to reach base during the drawn-out second.

David
Ortiz and Mike Carp walked, Daniel Nava delivered an RBI single off the
Green Monster in left field and Jarrod Saltalamacchia followed with an
RBI single up the middle to make it 2-0.

Stephen Drew's double to
right scored Nava, and consecutive base hits by Jose Iglesias and Jacoby
Ellsbury stretched the lead to 5-0 before Wang even managed an out.

It got even worse.

After
inducing a double play, Wang served up Pedroia's fifth homer of the
season, a two-run shot that landed in the first row of Green Monster
seats and ended Wang's evening after just 45 pitches.

NOTES: The
Red Sox played their 81st game, marking the 16th consecutive season
Boston has owned a winning record halfway through the season. … Red
Sox RHP Clay Buchholz, on the DL with a neck strain, has been shut down
for two to three days with lingering soreness in his right shoulder,
according to Farrell. Buchholz (9-0, 1.71 ERA) underwent an MRI on
Wednesday that revealed inflammation in the bursa sac area, but no
structural damage. Farrell said he hopes Buchholz will resume throwing
this weekend. … Ellsbury has hit safely in eight straight games and 22
of the past 25. … Wang fell to 6-7 in 16 career appearances against
the Red Sox. … Toronto RHP Josh Johnson (1-2, 4.60 ERA) will face
Allen Webster (0-2, 11.25) in the second game of the series Friday. …
Carp returned to the lineup after missing three games and eight of the
past nine with right hamstring tightness.

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