BOSTON - The Texas Rangers acquired Ryan Dempster from the Cubs at the trade deadline hoping the veteran righty would help them to their third straight pennant and even to the first World Series title in club history.
On Tuesday night, Dempster, who had been clubbed for eight runs on nine hits by the Angels in 4 2/3 innings in his American League debut, showed his new team more of what it expected. He 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.
"Dempster was outstanding. He just kept them off balance," Texas manager Ron Washington said after his team rebounded from a 9-2 Monday night pasting with the victory. "The way they swung the bats last night, it was tough to see if we (would be) able to keep them off balance and he did; he did a great job."
Talking about Dempster's debut with the Rangers, Washington said, "It was just one of those things in Texas. You know how that ballpark can get. You get the ball up there, and they get it in the air, it don't come down."
Back on June 15, Dempster, as part of a 33-inning scoreless streak, blanked the Sox over seven innings for the Cubs at Wrigley Field. Tuesday night, he struck out six in his first victory since July 14. After an Ian Kinsler error kept the inning alive, Dempster's 99th and final pitch was hit by Middlebrooks, whose first-pitch homer was upheld by video review.
Dempster improved to 6-5 overall on the season, 2-0 against Boston. Three relievers finished up, with Joe Nathan earning his 22nd save.
"He's a pro," Washington said of Dempster. "Even though he gave up all those runs against Anaheim, he kept us in that ballgame and we won that ballgame ... We're very happy to have him. We certainly need his leadership in the front part of our rotation."
Afterward, Dempster looked relieved.
"It was nice to get back out there after the first one and give us a chance to win the game," he said. "It's nice getting the first win out of the way, for sure."
Dempster picked Carl Crawford off second with one out in the first inning, a play made even bigger when Dustin Pedroia banged one off the wall. Dempster then settled in, and he and Jon Lester were locked in a scoreless duel through five innings.
Two RBI singles by Kinsler, one in the sixth and one in the seventh, helped the Rangers score twice in each inning.
Lester fell to 0-5 in his last seven starts, since his last win June 27.
"It's almost Groundhog Day (the movie, for Lester)," said Red Sox manager Bobby Valentine. "It's another heck of a performance. We didn't score the runs and he didn't get the breaks. Couple of curveballs to a couple of left-handers wound up hurting him, and a well-executed hit-and-run (by Geovany Soto)."
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 Josh Hamilton before Hamilton's RBI single. Later, Boston's Pedroia, angered by a missed check-swing Strike 3 call by first base umpire Paul Nauert, was ejected by Nauert while playing the field in the ninth. The beleaguered Valentine came out to argue further. 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.
NOTES: Nathan hasn't allowed an earned run in nine career outings at Fenway. ... The ejection was the second of Pedroia's career. ... 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 batting practice and shagged flies. ... Andrus returned 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 and will instead use rest and rehab with 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. ... 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."