BOSTON -- Jon Lester deserved a win for his efforts yesterday, but though he didn't get one, that didn't detract from his outing.
In one of his best outings of the season, Lester allowed just one run over seven innings while striking out 12. He entrusted a 3-1 lead to the Boston bullpen, but Koji Uehara allowed a two-run pinch-hit homer to Conor Gillaspie, taking the win from Lester.
But in the big picture, Lester could take some measure of satisfaction that the Red Sox notched their second straight walkoff win.
"Hopefully, this will give us a little bit of rhythm or comfort level,'' said Lester. "A win like today is huge. (Chicago starter Jose) Quintana threw the hell out of the ball for five innings and we were able to put some runs up and then come back for a 'W.' That's huge for us going into this road trip.''
The only run off Lester came in the first after a ground ball single from Adam Eaton and a double off The Wall by Jose Abreu gave the visitors a quick lead just three batters in.
After that, Lester never buckled. He fanned two batters in each of the first five innings and never issued a walk.
"I had pretty good command of my fastball to both sides,'' said Lester, "but the biggest pitch for me today was I was able to drop my curveball in for strikes and bounce it at the same time. When I'm able to that, I'm able to get some separation from my fastball and my cutter. To be able to locate away from a righthanded hitter, it just widens the plate for me quite a hit.
"We were able to do that and exploit it pretty well today.''
"That was probably the best curveball he's had in a long time,'' ventured John Farrell. "The number of strikeouts, the number of swings-and-misses, overall strike percentage was outstanding once again. But today it was the curve ball that was really the difference-maker.''
The start continued a terrific run for Lester over his last six outings, during which he's unbeaten. In those games, he's pitches 44 2/3 innings and allowed just five earned runs for an ERA of 1.01. That lowered his ERA for the season down to 2.65.
"I just take the ball every five days and pitch,'' shrugged Lester, deflecting any suggestion that this recent stretch represents a career high point. "Whatever the outcome may be, it is what it is. I try to do that every time I take the ball, whether or not I give up five or six runs in five innings or do what I did today.
"The effort's always there, the game-planning is always there. The work in-between starts is always there. Right now, I'm executing pitches pretty well. When guys are in scoring position right now, we're able to make some pitches and get out of a jam and limit damage when we can.''
The 12 strikeouts were the most he's recorded in a game in which he didn't issue a single walk, and it's that exceptional command that gives Lester the most satisfaction.
"That's something I've always tried to improve on throughout my career,'' said Lester. "Strikeouts are nice, but I'd rather look up there and see no walks any day of the week.''