The Red Sox put their season-best six-game winning streak in the hands of the red-hot Lester on Tuesday night for their first meeting with Colorado since the left-hander helped finish a sweep of the Rockies in the 2007 World Series.
Lester was barely a year removed from a diagnosis of lymphoma when he started Game 4 of that World Series, but he earned the victory after working 5 2-3 shutout innings in a 4-3 win at Coors Field as the Red Sox captured their second title in four years.
Boston quickly ended the Rockies’ remarkable run, which featured 21 wins in 22 games spanning the regular season and playoffs.
“It is going to be cool to go back and relive everything, but we have to also look at it like it is just another road trip,” Lester told the Red Sox’s official website. “Hopefully we can play well and get some wins.”
That has not been a problem lately for the Red Sox, who went 8-1 on their recent homestand, finishing with three-game sweeps of Arizona and the Los Angeles Dodgers to improve to 10-2 in interleague play.
Boston (43-28) is close to the AL East lead after going 24-8 overall since May 18, tied with Atlanta for the best record in the majors in that stretch.
Lester (8-2, 3.13 ERA) is a big reason for Boston’s surge, going 8-0 with a 2.01 ERA in his last 11 starts. The left-hander limited Arizona to two runs and four hits in seven innings of a 6-2 victory Wednesday but wasn’t thrilled with his performance, which included three walks and hit two batsmen.
“It’s kind of night and day from inning to inning and batter to batter sometimes,” Lester said. “Obviously, your objective is to win the game … but there are still things that need to be refined.”
Colorado rookie Jhoulys Chacin(notes) (3-6, 4.00) also has some issues after going 0-4 with a 5.32 ERA in his last four starts. The right-hander gave up seven hits and three walks in five innings at Minnesota on Wednesday, although he limited the damage in a 2-1 loss.
Closer Manny Corpas allowed five runs in the ninth inning to break a 1-all tie and has given up eight runs while retiring two batters in his last two outings.
“Simply put, the pitches that he needs to make and execute the pitch, he hasn’t done it the last couple of days,” Colorado manager Jim Tracy said.
The Rockies have bullpen help ready with Huston Street(notes) set to be activated from the disabled list. Street, however, will not immediately regain the closer role as he makes his 2010 debut following shoulder and groin problems.
Colorado has won 30 of its last 37 interleague home games, including a three-game sweep of Toronto from June 11-13.
It’s unclear how the Red Sox intend to use designated hitter David Ortiz(notes), who has 11 RBIs in his last nine games but made only one start at first base in Boston’s previous series in an NL park.