Lester’s arm, Pedroia’s power give Red Sox sweep
Two days after struggling in a game that was rained out, the Red Sox left-hander allowed two hits in eight innings and Boston beat Tampa Bay 4-0 on Sunday for a doubleheader sweep, handing the AL champion Rays their 11th consecutive loss.
Lester gave up hits to three of the first four batters Friday night but none of that counted when the game was called after he threw only 23 pitches. It was made up as the opener Sunday, a 3-1 Boston win.
“I was kind of surprised the way my body responded,” Lester said. “I figured I’d be a little more sore (Saturday) than I was.”
Red Sox manager Terry Francona said he wasn’t worried after Lester, who is 5-0 with a 2.26 ERA in his last 10 outings, told him Friday’s work was similar to a regular side session for a pitcher between starts.
“They’re creatures of habit and that’s not the way you draw it up,” Francona said. “He didn’t let it affect him.”
Tampa Bay was eliminated from the AL East race one year after winning the division and reaching the World Series. The losing streak is the longest by a major league team this season.
“This whole week has been pretty much negative offense,” Rays manager Joe Maddon said.
Boston’s win in the second game of the split doubleheader was its 11th in 15 games and eighth straight at Fenway Park.
Shields (9-11) had a rare solid performance at Fenway, where he is 0-6 with an 8.04 ERA.
Boston scored twice in the sixth. Drew led off with a single and went to third on a double by Lowell. Both scored on Jason Varitek’s(notes) single, a hard shot that took a bad hop past first baseman Willie Aybar.
For a change, there was no rain Sunday. Friday’s game was postponed after a delay of 2 hours, 20 minutes. The start of Saturday’s game was delayed for 2:05. Play was stopped in the top of the sixth due to heavy rain and the game was called 55 minutes later.
In Sunday’s opener, Buchholz allowed one run and five hits in seven innings before Hideki Okajima(notes) (6-0) pitched a perfect eighth. Jonathan Papelbon(notes) got three outs for his 36th save in 39 chances.
The 5-foot-9 Pedroia’s opposite-field power surprised even Francona.
Asked if he thought Pedroia could clear the fence in Fenway Park’s deep right field, Francona quickly said: “No.”
“You look up and they’re shading right field way in, so off the bat it looks like we’re going to get the run,” the manager said. “It just kept going. You saw his reaction. I don’t think he knew he could do it, either.”
“Pedroia hitting a home run to right field is the last thing you expected,” Maddon said.
Ortiz opened the eighth with a pinch-hit double off the base of the right-field wall against Matt Garza(notes) (7-10). Jacoby Ellsbury(notes) sacrificed and Pedroia drove a 2-0 pitch into the Rays’ bullpen for his 13th homer.
“They’ve been pitching me away a lot lately with high fastballs,” said Pedroia, the reigning AL MVP who hit 17 homers last season. “I just got a pitch out there and drove it. I was kind of joking with (David) that he hit the wall.”
Boston went up 1-0 on Martinez’s sixth-inning RBI single.
Tampa Bay tied it in the seventh on Jason Bartlett’s(notes) run-scoring single. Second baseman Pedroia fielded Bartlett’s hit behind the bag and threw wide to first, but Casey Kotchman(notes) cut down Gabe Gross(notes) as Martinez blocked the plate.
Buchholz held the Rays to five singles, walking three and striking out five. In his last three starts at Fenway, he’s given up just two runs and 10 hits in 22 1-3 innings.
NOTES: John Stockton threw out the ceremonial first pitch in the second game two nights after he was inducted into the Basketball Hall of Fame in Springfield. … Red Sox RHP Daisuke Matsuzaka(notes), on the disabled list since June 21 with a mild shoulder strain, turned 29. He is expected to start Tuesday against the Angels. … Tampa Bay DH Pat Burrell(notes) is in a 1-for-19 slump. He was ejected as a pinch hitter in the eighth inning of the second game after arguing a third strike.