Lester, Sox sting back with 6-2 win over Rays

Lester, Sox sting back with 6-2 win over Rays
July 23, 2013, 10:15 pm
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Jon Lester snapped a personal three-game winless streak while tying a career high in strikeouts as the Red Sox gave themselves a little more breathing room in the American League East standings, holding off the Tampa Bay Rays, 6-2.
      
Lester went 6 1/3 innings and allowed just two runs - both on solo homers - to improve to 9-6.
      
With the win, the Sox re-established a game and a half lead over the Rays.
      
The Sox blew the game open with a three-run eighth on an RBI single from Stephen Drew and a two-run single by Jose Iglesias.
       
A single by Mike Carp in the second and a delayed double steal - with Dustin Pedroia swiping second and Shane Victorino stealing home - gave the Sox a 2-1 lead after three.
        
They later added another run with a sacrifice fly by Pedroia plating Daniel Nava.
        
Three Red Sox relievers - Matt Thornton, Junichi Tazawa and Koji Uehara - combined to retire the final eight Rays without allowing a single baserunner.

Star of the Game: Jon Lester
It would have been nice for Lester, who was pitching with nine days' rest, to get deeper into the game than 6 1/3 innings. But he showed improved fastball command (eight strikeouts, zero walks) and wasn't nearly as dependent on his cutter, a pitch which has been ineffective for him at times this year.

Honorable Mention: Junichi Tazawa
Tazawa looked overworked before the break, but his pitches had far better life Tuesday night. He faced four batters and struck out three - the kind of outing the Sox are going to need from him over the final two innings

Goat of the Game: Kyle Farnsworth
The Red Sox were clinging to a 3-2 lead in the eighth but Farnaworth came in and allowed four hits in the span of five batters, producing three big insurance runs for the Red Sox.

Turning point:  After a one-out double by Jose Molina in the seventh, the Rays had the potential tying run in scoring position but Matt Thronton and Tazawa got the final two outs of the inning to preserve the lead.

By the numbers:  Since June 10, Koji Uehara has allowed one run in his last 21 innings over 21 appearances.

Quote of note: "It's a game of adjustments. I'm not going to shy away from my strength. But you've got to be able to throw all four pitches and mix them up." - Jon Lester, on using his cutter less and using difference pitch sequemces.