Lester had a perfect game for 6 1-3 innings before finishing with a two-hit complete game in the Red Sox’s 8-1 victory over the Texas Rangers on Saturday night.
“It’s hard not to think about it when you’ve got the Green Monster out there. It’s in your face the whole time,” Lester said about the zeros for runs and hits across the Texas linescore on the left-field wall. “I was real happy it was a well-struck ball. It wasn’t an infield hit or anything like that.”
Michael Young(notes) doubled into the gap in left-center with one out in the seventh to break up Lester’s bid for a perfect game. After letting out a loud groan as the ball rolled to the wall, the sold-out crowd gave Lester a standing ovation.
Young also singled in the ninth.
Lester (5-5), the club’s most reliable postseason pitcher last year when he threw a no-hitter on May 19 against Kansas City, got off to a slow start this season, giving up 11 runs in his first two starts.
But Saturday, he showed how dominating he can be, striking out 11 and walking just two. It was his third career complete game.
“I had thoughts of a guy really pitching well,” Red Sox manager Terry Francona said. “His stuff from the get-go was powerful.”
Lester struck out nine of the first 15 batters he faced, getting four swinging at pitches down outside the strike zone—including the side in the fourth.
“That was just lights out,” Young said. “That was one of the best games I’ve seen in my career by a pitcher.”
Oritz, mired in a season-long slump, connected for the second time this season and first since May 20. Lowell homered—after having his double overturned by video review.
“That’s how you get back to hitting balls and start hitting well, put a good swing on a ball,” Ortiz said. “Even though you don’t get the good luck, it will come.”
Lester, the hard-throwing left-hander once rumored to be possible trade bait when Minnesota was looking to deal lefty Johan Santana(notes), was overpowering early, mixing in a number of sharp curveballs and cut fastballs that made many of the Rangers’ hitters miss badly.
“The guy had good stuff and he was in the strike zone with it,” Rangers manager Ron Washington said. “He made us swing the bat.”
“I was able to get guys on swings and misses,” Lester said. “Not all of them were in the zone, which is good.”
In 2006, Lester missed the end of the season after he was diagnosed with a rare form of non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma. A year later, he was the starting and winning pitcher in the Game 4 finale in the 2007 World Series.
Ortiz homered on a line drive just inside the right-field pole for his second of the season to key a four-run sixth against Kris Benson(notes) that made it 8-0. Pedroia and Kevin Youkilis(notes) added RBI singles.
Lowell’s line drive near the left-field pole bounced first off a ledge in the front row of the Green Monster Seats and caromed onto the field.
The replay review system was used for the third time in four games at Fenway Park. The Red Sox lost the previous two.
Jeff Kellogg, the third-base umpire and crew chief, signaled the ball was in play as Lowell headed to second, but when the umpires returned from the review Kellogg came up from Boston’s dugout steps and signaled that it was a homer.
Boston RHP John Smoltz(notes), recovering from offseason shoulder surgery, pitched six innings for Triple-A Pawtucket on Saturday night, allowing one run on three hits with two walks and three strikeouts in his fourth rehab start. … Texas LHP Matt Harrison(notes), on the disabled list with shoulder inflammation, pitched three innings, allowing three hits and one run in a rehab start for Double-A Frisco on Saturday.