By Maureen Mullen
CSNNE.com Follow @maureenamullen
BOSTON Jon Lester rebounded from a shaky first two innings in the first game of Tuesdays doubleheader against the Rays at Fenway Park, and the Red Sox won, 3-1.
In the first two innings, Lester faced 10 batters, allowing two hits, a walk, and a hit batter, but limited the Rays to one run. After hitting Sean Rodriguez with a pitch and walking Kelly Shoppach on four pitches in the second, Lester retired the next 12 consecutive batters before allowing another hit.
Lester went seven innings, giving up one run on three hits and a walk with eight strikeouts, improving to 12-6, with a 3.22 ERA.
Jacoby Ellsburys 21st home run of the season gave Lester all the run support he would need. Ellsbury hit a three-run shot into the visitors' bullpen off Rays starter James Shields, scoring Josh Reddick and Mike Aviles to make the score 3-1 in the third inning.
Reddick and Aviles singled to start the rally, and the three hits in the inning were the only hits Shields allowed. Despite extending his league-leading complete game total to nine, he fell to 11-10.
Daniel Bard pitched a perfect eighth and Jonathan Papelbon did the same in the ninth for his 28th save.
The Sox, who entered the day tied with the Yankees for the American League East lead, picked up a half-game.
The night cap is scheduled to start at 7:10 with Erik Bedard (4-7, 3.55 ERA, with two no decisions with the Sox), facing Jays right-hander Jeff Niemann (7-4, 3.43).
Maureen Mullen is on Twitter at http:twitter.commaureenamullen