NEW YORK -- After a seven-day layoff and a stretch of starts in which he looked shaky, Jon Lester didn't exactly dazzle the New York Yankees Tuesday night.
But he was good enough.
Lester allowed three runs over six innings and overcame some early-inning wildness (a walk and two hits batsman in the first) and improved to 8-2 as the Red Sox beat the Yankees, 6-4.
The Sox scored three times in the first on a leadoff homer by Jacoby Ellsbury, an RBI triple from Adrian Gonzalez and a sacrifice fly from Kevin Youkilis and chased New York starter Freddy Garcia in the second inning.
Dustin Pedroia doubled home another run in the second and David Ortiz cracked a two-run homer in the fifth.
The Sox pieced together the rest of the game with Matt Albers and Daniel Bard each turning in a scoreless inning. Jonathan Papelbon allowed a run in the ninth but still recorded the save, the 200th of Papelbon's career.
Bobby Jenks had started the seventh but was forced to leave in favor of Albers when he felt some tightness in his back.
With the win, the Sox improved to 6-1 against the Yankees this season and moved into a virtual tie for first place with their rivals.
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The Pablo Sandoval redemption tour is underway as the former World Series MVP tries to revive his career after two disastrous seasons with the Red Sox organization.
In an interview with ESPN Deportes, he admits to being “complacent” during his first two seasons in Boston after signing a five-year, $95 million deal.
"My career had fallen into an abyss because I was so complacent with things that I had already accomplished," Sandoval said. "I did not work hard in order to achieve more and to remain at the level of the player that I am and that I can be."
After dealing Travis Shaw to the Brewers, Sandoval is expected to be the Red Sox primary third baseman in 2017.
"I am not taking anything for granted," he said. "I am here to work hard. I'm not thinking about the position or not. I am starting from scratch, and I am here to show what I can do on the field."
The 30-year-old says he’s following a “really strict routine” this offseason, and it shows. In a recent photo, Sandoval appears noticeably thinner. Sandoval says his wife giving birth to “Baby Panda” has served as inspiration.
"Watching 'Baby Panda' grow up and that he gets the opportunity to see his father play in the majors for seven, eight more years, to get back to the success I had, that's my motivation every day," Sandoval said. "The people that I surround myself with now and my family, they are the key to my success. This has been a life lesson."
Could John Henry sell ownership of the Boston Red Sox anytime soon, or does he want to keep winning? Shaughnessy, Merloni, and Tanguay debate.