BOSTON - Jon Lester pitched into the eighth inning for the first time since May 10 Thursday night and won for the second straight start, following hard on the heels of a six-game winless streak.
But the good news may have ended there for the Red Sox, who staked Lester to a 7-0 lead in the second inning, then held off the Toronto Blue Jays, 7-4.
Pitching to Emilio Bonifacio in the top of the eighth, Lester bent over in discomfort after delivering a ball that ran the count to 3-and-0, and was forced to come out of the game. Lester said he landed awkwardly and felt a stinging sensation in his hip and down his leg. He said he felt fine after the game.
Junichi Tazawa finished out the eighth for Lester while Koji Uehara earned his second save in as many days with a clean ninth inning.
The Red Sox had pounded Toronto starter Chien-Ming Wang in the second as the first seven straight hitters reached base, all but one of them came around to score.
Four Red Sox hitters contributed run-scoring singles and Stephen Drew added an RBI-double, helped out by Jose Bautisita, who misplayed a ball in front of the bullpen.
Later in the inning, Dustin Pedroia ended a stretch of 110 at-bats without a homer when he launched a ball that just reached the MonsterSeats for a two-run shot.
The win cooled off the Jays at least a little bit. Toronto had come in having won 15 of its last 19.
Lester didn't allow a hit until a one-out single to center in the fifth by Melky Cabrera. A single by Rajai Davis scored Cabrera and a double from Maicer Izturis plated Davis.
The Sox improved to 6-3 against the Jays this season.
STAR OF THE GAME: Jon Lester
Though his night ended somewhat prematurely when he landed awkwardly on his final pitch and felt soreness in his right hip, Lester showed improvement, getting into the first inning for the first time since May 10. Lester allowed just two runs in the first seven innings and enjoyed six innings in which he faced the minimum number of hitters.
HONORABLE MENTION: Koji Uehara
It wasn't exactly a white-knuckle kind of save with the Red Sox leading by three in the ninth, but the fact that Uehara had a clean inning with two strikeouts helps stabilize the closer's position for the team. It was Uehara's second save in as many outings.
GOAT OF THE GAME: Chien-Ming Wang
Wang had been pitching well since being signed by Toronto, but not Thursday night. He allowed seven straight hitters to reach in the second inning, as seven runs crossed the plate. He was done after an inning and two thirds, forcing the Jays into the unenviable position of going to their bullpen in the second inning in the first game of a four-game series.
TURNING POINT: With two runs already in and two runners on, Jose Bautista got twisted around in the outfield and misplayed a catchable ball by Stephen Drew into a double that kept the inning going for the Red Sox.
BY THE NUMBERS: Dustin Pedroia's homer in the second inning -- a two-run shot -- was his first in the month of May, ending a stretch of 110 at-bats without a homer.
QUOTE OF NOTE: "It was kind of a stinging situation down my leg. It's something I have had before in years past. In the part of the game we were in, there was no point messing around with it at that particular juncture ... I actually feel fine now." -Jon Lester