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Lester strikes out 12 in easy Red Sox victory

The SportsXchange

CLEVELAND -- Jon Lester was a strikeout machine and his Boston teammates were a hitting machine as the Red Sox demolished the Cleveland Indians 14-1 Sunday.

Lester struck out 12 batters in six innings, including 10 of the last 14 batters he faced. Lester (6-10) held Cleveland to one run on three hits.

"He had a chance at the major league strikeout record if I'd left him in," said Boston manager Bobby Valentine, who removed Lester from the game after six innings and 101 pitches. Lester was still eight strikeouts shy of the major-league record for a nine-inning game.

It was Lester's first win since a 10-4 victory over Toronto on June 27. In seven starts between victories the big left-hander was 0-5 with a 7.49 ERA.

"I just tried to get as many quick outs as I could," said Lester.

The Red Sox took the drama out of this one early, scoring three runs in the first inning and single runs in the second and fourth innings, followed by an eight-run explosion in the fifth.

"Anytime we score early it takes the pressure off me to have to be perfect," said Lester.

Carl Crawford had three doubles and three RBIs -- in the first five innings. Adrian Gonzalez walloped a two-run home run in the first inning and added a two-run double in the fifth.

Boston had 16 hits, including seven doubles. Most of that damage came against Cleveland's first two pitchers, starter Corey Kluber and reliever Josh Tomlin. Kluber (0-1), in his third major league start, gave up six runs on seven hits in 3 1/3 innings.

Tomlin, who was recently pulled out of the rotation and sent to the bullpen, gave up seven runs on five hits in 1 1/3 innings. After the game manager Manny Acta said Tomlin will not accompany the Indians on their West Coast trip that starts Monday. Instead, Tomlin will have his right elbow examined by Indians doctors.

In Boston's eight-run fifth inning, the Red Sox sent 13 men to the plate, and seven of them either doubled or walked.

The Indians scored a run in the first inning and then Lester settled down and dominated the Cleveland lineup. At one point, from the second to the fifth innings, Lester struck out eight of 11 batters.

Jason Donald and Asdrubal Cabrera led off the Cleveland first inning with singles, and a sacrifice fly by Carlos Santana drove in Cleveland's first run.

Boston began the rout in the first inning, and kept it up for most of the rest of the game.

With one out in the first, Crawford doubled and scored on a double by Dustin Pedroia. Gonzalez followed with a towering home run to right to make it 3-0.

"Kluber was up in the zone with everything in the first inning," said Acta.

Cleveland's first inning run cut the Boston lead to 3-1, but the Red Sox went back to work on Kluber in the second. Mike Aviles and Jacoby Ellsbury both singled ahead of a two-run double by Crawford to make it 5-1.

"I left a lot of pitches in the middle of the plate and they hit them," said Kluber. "In all three of my starts, I've given up runs in the first inning. I need to figure that out."

An RBI single by Kelly Shoppach in the fourth inning knocked Kluber out of the game and stretched the lead to 6-1, and the Red Sox removed all doubt with an eight-run fifth inning, which featured two-run doubles by Ellsbury and Gonzalez.

NOTES: Boston third baseman Will Middlebrooks might miss the rest of the season, but he does not need surgery on his fractured right wrist. "The doctors told me I should be fine, it should heal just fine," said Middlebrooks, who was hit on the wrist by a pitch from Cleveland reliever Esmil Rogers in the ninth inning Friday. ... Red Sox DH David Ortiz had hoped to return to the lineup Sunday, but there is still some soreness in his right Achilles. The Red Sox are 10-15 since Ortiz went on the disabled list July 18. ... Cleveland second baseman Jason Kipnis missed his fourth consecutive game Sunday with a stiff neck. Acta said he hopes Kipnis can return to the lineup Monday. ... Indians first baseman Casey Kotchman, a left-handed hitter, was given a day off Sunday vs. Boston lefty Lester. Kotchman, who flied out in a late-game at bat, is hitting .160 since the All-Star break.
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