Lester has 'fun' pitcher's duel with Sale

Lester has 'fun' pitcher's duel with Sale
April 18, 2014, 12:15 am
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CHICAGO -- Jon Lester was dominant Thursday night, which is a good thing for the Red Sox because Chris Sale was as well.

The two lefties engaged in a brilliant pitcher's duel Thursday, with neither allowing a hit through the first five innings. Lester, in fact, was perfect into the sixth, having retired the first 16 hitters he faced before the White Sox strung together three straight hits to scratch out a run.

That would be the only damage off Lester, who evened his record at 2-2 when he pitched through the eighth and the Red Sox got him two runs in the top of the ninth, good for a 3-1 victory.

"He needed to be (that good),'' said John Farrell. "He was very good. He had three pitches for strikes, he was down in the strike zone, he established an outstanding rhythm right from the start.''

''If you're a baseball fan,'' said catcher David Ross, "that was a really good game tonight. Two really good lefties, two of the best in the game going at it and we came out ahead. But I always have confidence in Jon -- he pitched like he normally does.''

From a results standpoint, however, he was better than usual, setting the White Sox down in order in each of the first five innings while recording six strikeouts.

The ball didn't leave the infield in those five innings.

"When you've got a guy who's going like Sale was on the other side,'' said Lester, "and he's throwing the ball as well as he did tonight, it's good to grind out those innings.''

The Sox didn't have a hit off Sale in the first five, either, creating extra intensity in the ballpark.

"It's fun, it's cool,'' said Lester of the atmosphere. "It's kind of a 'who's going to make the mistake first?' thing. He did (in allowing a solo homer to Xander Bogaerts with two out in the top of the sixth) and then I gave it right back.''

The White Sox bunched together three hits off Lester in the sixth, a one-out single to the shortstop hole by Tyler Flowers, a double to right by Leury Garcia and an infield hit to the right side by Adam Eaton.

But Lester got himself out of a first-and-third jam and didn't allow another run the rest of the way.

"Tonight, I felt like my location was pretty good,'' said Lester, "as far as the bottom of the (strike) zone. As far as feeling I had 'no-hit stuff' or powerful stuff, I felt normal. I just felt my location was pretty much throughout the game.''

Lester didn't allow a walk in his eight innings while registering a season-high nine strikeouts and has a 29-4 strikeout-to-walk ratio through his first four starts.