Lester, Sox fend off Cubs, 4-3

794974.jpg

Lester, Sox fend off Cubs, 4-3

CHICAGO -- Jon Lester earned his first win in almost a month, tossing six shutout innings before allowing a three-run homer in the seventh, as the Red Sox held off the Chicago Cubs, 4-3, at Wrigley Field.

Lester hadn't allowed a baserunner to reach third base through six, but yielded a leadoff double to Jeff Baker, a one-out walk to Wellington Castillo and an opposite-field three-run homer to left by Luis Valbuena that shaved the Sox' lead to one.

But Scott Atchison got the final out of the seventh and Vicente Padilla and Alfredo Aceves closed out the final two innings as Lester got a win for the first time since May 19, also an interleague contest.

Lester fanned eight and walked just one while improving to 4-4 for the season.

Jarrod Saltalamacchia, hitting cleanup, belted a two-run homer in the fourth to give the Sox a 2-0 lead. Run-scoring singles from Will Middlebrooks in the sixth and Scott Podsednik in the seventh added to the Sox' advantage.

Podsednik had two more hits and has multi-hit games out of the leadoff spot in four of the five games on this road trip.

Alfredo Aceves allowed a leadoff single in the ninth but picked up a strikeout and a double play to end the game and lock down his 16th save.

Boston pitchers strike out 14, but Red Sox still fall to Rays, 7-3

Boston pitchers strike out 14, but Red Sox still fall to Rays, 7-3

The appearance of Tampa Bay Rays lefty Ryan Yarbrough almost got the Boston Red Sox back in their spring training exhibition game. The Sox managed to score all three of their runs against the 25-year-old in their 7-3 loss to the Tampa Bay Rays at Charlotte Sports Park in Port Charlotte, Florida on Sunday.

But the Rays, who scored runs in five different innings, managed to widen their lead in the eighth inning by beating up on Sox lefty Luis Isla, a 24-year-old who spent last season with Portland and Pawtucket. In the eighth, Rays' Joe McCarthy homered and Luke Maile managed an RBI single, which cappped off the scoring in the contest. Sox starter Hector Velazquez allowed three hits and an earned run in his two innnings. The 28-year-old, who spent 2016 in the Mexican League, still managed to amass four strikeouts.

"I was a little nervous at the start, being in the United States for the first time and playing for a big league club for the first time," Velazquez told RedSox.com through an interpreter. "But once I got the first out, all the nerves went away, and I was able to bear down."

Despite allowing two homers, Boston pitchers combined for 14 strikeouts.

With the exception of the Sox' inning against Yarbrough, Boston's veterans and prospects struggled mighltily against the Rays pitching staff. Chris Archer started for Tampa, and set the tone in the first two innings, where he threw two strikeouts, one walk and allowed one hit and no runs. Andrew Benintendi (0-for-3), Sam Travis (0-for-2) and Bryce Brentz (0-for-3) went hitless on the day. Travis, however, reached base on balls.

"I felt good. I accomplished what I wanted to accomplish," Archer said, via the Red Sox' team website. "Just out there having fun, it was really fun to be out there in the spectrum with the umpire, the fans, the batter. It was fun."

Marco Hernandez's triple got the Sox' eighth-inning off to a strong start, and singles from Matt Dominguez, Deven Marrero, Rusney Castillo and Cole Sturgeon followed. The Sox' eighth inning scoring ended after Castillo got thrown out by left fielder McCarthy at third. Six Red Sox finished with one-hit outings, including Brock Holt and Blake Swihart.

The Sox will next host the St. Louis Cardinals in Fort Myers on Monday at 1:05 p.m. ET.