BOSTON - The Texas Rangers acquired Ryan Dempster from the Cubs at the trade deadline hoping the veteran righty would help the team to its third straight pennant and even to the first World Series title in club history.
Tuesday night, Dempster, who had been clubbed for eight runs on nine hits in 4 2/3 innings in his American League debut, shut the Red Sox out for 6 2/3 innings before a pinch-hit home run by Will Middlebrooks (No. 14) produced three unearned runs and knocked him from the game. It couldn't keep Dempster from his first AL win, though, as the Rangers beat the Red Sox 6-3.
Back on June 15, Dempster, as part of a 33-inning scoreless streak, blanked the Red Sox over seven innings for the Cubs at Wrigley Field. Tuesday night, he struck out six in his first victory since July 14. His 99th and final pitch was hit by Middlebrooks, and the first-pitch homer was upheld by video review.
Dempster moved to 6-5 overall on the season, 2-0 against Boston. Three relievers finished up, with Joe Nathan earning his 22nd save.
The game was scoreless through five innings.
RBI singles by Ian Kinsler and Josh Hamilton off loser Jon Lester (5-10, 5.36 ERA) in the sixth and a sacrifice fly by David Murphy and another RBI hit by Kinsler in the seventh hung another loss on Lester, who is 0-5 in his last seven starts since his last win June 27.
It was Kinsler's two-out error that preceded the Middlebrooks homer.
Lester had a staring match with home plate umpire Lance Barrett leaving the mound after the sixth, when he felt the umpire missed Strike 3 on Hamilton. Later, Boston's Dustin Pedroia, angered by a check-swing Strike 3 call by first base umpire Paul Nauert, was ejected by the umpire while playing the field in the ninth. Beleaguered manager Bobby Valentine came out to argue further and had his say. He was not ejected and heard chants of "Bob-by, Bob-by" from the crowd.
The Middlebrooks homer made it 4-3, but Nelson Cruz's RBI single off Mark Melancon in the eighth and Elvis Andrus' RBI single off Junichi Tazawa in the ninth provided insurance.
Cody Ross had two doubles for the Red Sox, who saw their two-game winning streak stopped and fell back under the .500 mark.
The first-place Rangers ended a two-game losing streak with their third win in four games this season at Fenway Park, their fifth in seven games overall against Boston.
Lester yielded a pair of singles over the first five innings and Texas got a runner as far as second base for the first time when, with two out in the fifth, Michael Young singled and moved up on a wild pitch. But Geovany Soto, also picked up from the Cubs, struck out on a 3-2 pitch.
Meanwhile, Dempster, hammered by the Angels in his first American League start, had to work a bit harder than Lester.
Carl Crawford doubled with one out in the Boston first, his 10th hit in his last 18 at-bats, but he was promptly picked off second, a blunder made worse when Pedroia followed with a single.
Ross led off the second with his first double and got as far as third before Ryan Kalish grounded out. Ross doubled again with two outs in the fourth, but this time Jarrod Saltalamacchia grounded out.
Dempster worked a perfect sixth that included his fifth and sixth strikeouts.
NOTES: Josh Beckett, who starts the series and homestand finale Wednesday after being pushed back from Sunday because of a back spasm, told a Boston radio show Tuesday that the trade deadline and rumors mentioning his name caused him anxiety that might have led to the injury. "We traveled late in from New York (the night before) and I didn't sleep particularly well, had a lot of anxiety and stress things going on, exterior distractions," Beckett told WAAF. "I don't think that a lot of it was great for my back. And going out and pitching on that mound, it was very wet, and my back just locked up on me." Asked if the Sox have a dysfunctional clubhouse, he said, "No, it's the exact opposite." ... Matt Harrison (13-6) pitches for Texas Wednesday. ... Boston Bruins Tuukka Rask, Daniel Paille, Shawn Thornton and Mike Mottau took early for batting practice and shagged flies. ... Andrus returned to the Texas lineup after missing a game with a shoulder injury. ... Boston reliever Scott Atchison was told by Dr. James Andrews he doesn't need Tommy John surgery. Atchison will instead use rest and rehab and hopes to pitch again this season. ... David Ortiz, closing in on a return from an Achilles strain and a day after receiving a Marcaine injection, said, before taking batting practice, "Feeling better. I think we might get there." He hopes to play in Cleveland this weekend. ... Texas manager Ron Washington and veteran righty Roy Oswalt met and cleared the air Tuesday after Oswalt refused to pitch a third inning in relief Sunday. Asked if everything was fine, Washington said, "I didn't know anything wasn't fine. We met and cleared the air about what was said and moved on."