Lester keeps Sox rolling, 4-3

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Lester keeps Sox rolling, 4-3

By Sean McAdam
CSNNE.com

ANAHEIM, Calif. -- The offense is still in stuck in first gear, but the Red Sox' starting pitching continues to hum along quite nicely.

Jon Lester tossed six shutout innings as the Red Sox beat the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim, 4-3, Friday night, for their third consecutive victory.

Since last Saturday, the Sox are 6-1. In that span, the starters have a collective 1.17 ERA, with no starter allowing more than two runs in an outing.

The Red Sox had just five hits on the night, but bunched together a few and got some help from the Angels' porous defense.

Jacoby Ellsbury doubled home Jarrod Saltalamachia in the third for the first run. A fly ball that dropped between Torii Hunter and Peter Bourjos produced two more in the fourth.

Vernon Wells boxed around Jed Lowrie's leadoff double in the seventh, sending Lowrie to third, from where he scored on J.D. Drew's single to center.

The Angels broke through off Matt Albers in the seventh with a run on two broken-bat hits, then scored twice off Bobby Jenks in the eighth, with Saltalamacchia allowing a passed ball that enabled Bobby Abreu to score all the way from second.

Jonathan Papelbon settled things down in the ninth for his fifth save.

STAR OF THE GAME: Jon Lester.

Lester wasn't particularly efficient (111 pitches in just six innings), but there's no arguing with the results. He allowed just four hits and walked two while fanning eight.

After a rough start on Opening Day, Lester has now allowed just four earned runs in his last four starts.

Now 2-1 with an ERA of 2.59 and just one start this month remaining, it's safe to say that Lester's April troubles are over.

HONORABLE MENTION: J.D. Drew

Drew, who has hit leadoff the previous two games, was returned to the middle of the order (sixth) and responded with a double in the fourth that helped key the two-run inning, then added a run-scoring single in the sixth.

In four plate appearances, Drew reached base three times with a run scored and an RBI.

GOAT OF THE GAME: Jarrod Saltalamacchia.

Saltalamachia had another rough night behind the plate as the Angels swiped three bases and Red Sox pitchers were charged with two wild pitches on balls that Saltalamacchia got his glove on.

Worse, Saltalamachia allowed a 2-seamer from Bobby Jenks to go between his legs in the eighth inning, then couldn't find the ball, allowing Bobby Abreu to score all the way from second base.

TURNING POINT: In the second inning, with the Angels threatening (first and second, one out), second baseman Dustin Pedroia made a terrific double play by swiping a tag on baserunner Alberto Callaspo, then firing to first for an inning-ending rally-killer.

BY THE NUMBERS: 1.17 -- the ERA of Red Sox starters since Saturday, during which they've gone 6-1.

QUOTE OF NOTE: "A little bit. I think that's fair to say,'' -- Terry Francona on whether catcher Jarrod Saltalamachia is fighting himself behind the plate.

Sean McAdam can be reached at smcadam@comcastsportsnet.com. Follow Sean on Twitter at http:twitter.comsean_mcadam

Halftime stars, studs and duds: Rose looking like his old self

Halftime stars, studs and duds: Rose looking like his old self

BOSTON – The New York Knicks have been in a massive funk of late, something the Boston Celtics had to know which, not surprisingly, would result in them playing with a heightened level of desperation.

That desperation left the Celtics a bit exasperated at the half which ended with a 10-2 run by New York that put them ahead 63-54 at the half.

After falling behind by as many as nine points in the second quarter, the Celtics rallied to within a single point (53-52) following a basket by Isaiah Thomas.

The second quarter was all-New York afterwards.

It was just a one-possession game (Boston led 34-31) for the Celtics going into the second quarter, which was exactly where Boston didn’t want to be against a Knicks team whose bench ranks among the NBA’s highest-scoring second units recently. In their last three games, the Knicks’ bench has averaged 43.0 points per game which according to hoopsstats.com, ranks sixth in the NBA during that span.

At the half, they had 33 points compared to just 12 for Boston’s backups.

Boston fell behind early 9-5, but the Celtics rallied following a time-out with a 15-4 run capped off by a 3-pointer from Isaiah Thomas.

The Celtics’ lead peaked at nine points on separate occasions in the first, but the Knicks closed out the first with a 12-6 spurt that cut Boston’s lead to 34-31 at the end of the first.

Here are the Stars, Studs and Duds from the first half.

 

STARS

Derrick Rose

The former league MVP looked like his old self tonight instead of just old. He led the Knicks with 14 points on 7-for-11 shooting.

Isaiah Thomas

The Knicks had great success inside the paint against all the Celtics minus Thomas who did much of his dirty work offensively on drives to the basket. At the half he had 19 points on 8-for-10 shooting.

 

STUDS

Willy Hernangomez

Boston had problems rebounding the ball, and Hernangomez was the main reason why. At the half he had 10 points and six rebounds, three of which were offensive boards.

Jae Crowder

Dealing with Carmelo Anthony is enough to keep Crowder busy tonight. But he’s doing that at a high level in addition to providing a nice punch offensively with 14 points.

Mindaugas Kuzminskas

You may not know his name, but his game was pretty impressive in the first half. At the half, he had nine points.

 

DUDS

Al Horford

We’ve seen him air-ball a 3-pointer, miss a lay-up and strguggle to get any shots to go down tonight. At the half, he had three points while missing nine of his 10 shot attempts.

Avery Bradley (Achilles) will not play vs. Knicks

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Avery Bradley (Achilles) will not play vs. Knicks

BOSTON – Both New York and Boston will take to the floor tonight minus a starter courtesy of a sore Achilles injury.

For Celtics guard Avery Bradley, tonight will be the fifth time in the last six games that his right Achilles injury will keep him sidelined.

Meanwhile, New York’s Kristaps Porzingis will miss his fourth straight game with a sore left Achilles injury.

The 7-foot-3 Porzingis averages 19.4 points, 7.4 rebounds and 1.4 assists per game.

Porzingis’ absence tonight was established well before tip-off.

“I’d say I’m 90 percent ready; still not there yet,” Porzingis told reporters prior to the game. “But I’m getting closer … hopefully the next game or after the next game.”

As far as Bradley is concerned, he was a last-minute matter.

Celtics head coach Brad Stevens was asked about his roster earlier tonight, and indicated Tyler Zeller (sinus) and James Young (ankle) would be on the inactive list tonight with injuries.

Without Bradley, the Celtics are expected to start Marcus Smart who has filled in as the team’s starter previously when the 6-foot-2 Bradley was unavailable.

 Bradley is the Celtics' second-leading scorer with 17.7 points per game this season, along with a team-high 6.9 rebounds per game and 2.4 assists.