The Boston Red Sox bolstered their rotation so they won’t have to outslug opponents as they did in their last contest.
Despite a 10-run first inning, Boston (69-51) needed to rally for a 19-17 victory over Texas in Tuesday’s opener for its second straight win overall.
That came hours after the club acquired 37-year-old Paul Byrd from Cleveland to help a rotation that’s seen knuckleballer Tim Wakefield go on the disabled list with shoulder stiffness and Clay Buchholz continue to struggle.
“It just seemed like the right time to add this kind of stabilizer,” Boston general manager Theo Epstein said of Byrd, who was 7-10 with a 4.53 ERA for the Indians and will start Friday versus Toronto. “You never want to get caught short on starting pitching in August and September because there’s very little you can do about it.”
On Tuesday, rookie knuckleballer Charlie Zink replaced Wakefield by allowing eight runs in 4 1-3 innings. David Ortiz hit a pair of three-run homers in the first inning, Dustin Pedroia had five hits and Kevin Youkilis highlighted a four-run eighth with his second homer of the night, a three-run shot that overcame a two-run deficit.
“So the roller coaster ride in Boston’s always fun,” Youkilis said. “Luckily, we got the cheers at the end.”
The combined 36 runs tied an AL record set on June 29, 1950, when the Red Sox beat the Philadelphia Athletics 22-14.
Ortiz is 10-for-20 with three home runs and 17 RBIs this season against Texas (61-59), which is 0-5 versus the Red Sox - all at Fenway.
Lester (10-4, 3.23 ERA), who lost for the time in over two months his last time out, joins Josh Becket and Daisuke Matsuzaka to make up a strong front end of the Red Sox rotation. He allowed four runs and six hits in seven innings of a 5-3 loss at Chicago on Friday.
“I threw the ball a lot better than the linescore said,” said Lester, who is 7-1 with a 2.95 ERA in 12 starts since losing at Oakland on May 25.
The left-hander has a 5.06 ERA, but has not factored in the decision of both of his starts versus Texas. He allowed three runs in 6 1-3 innings of a 5-3 win over the Rangers on April 19.
“If they didn’t quit (Tuesday). I don’t think they’re ever going to quit,” Texas manager Ron Washington said.
Byrd is batting .523 (23-for-44) with two home runs and 12 RBIs this month for the Rangers, who scored 32 runs in two games after being held to four during a four-game losing streak.
Kinsler has homered in his last two contests with seven RBIs.
Mendoza, 2-5 with an 8.78 ERA in 10 starts, allowed five runs and six hits in three innings of a 9-1 loss at Baltimore on Friday. The right-hander yielded seven runs in three innings of an 11-3 loss to Boston on April 18 in his only appearance versus the Red Sox.