BOSTON (AP) -- Jon Lester gave Boston's battered rotation another
Elias Says ...
Jon Lester became only the second Red Sox pitcher in the past 40 years to start his major league career with five straight wins. The other was Aaron Sele (6-0 in 1993). • For more Elias Says, click here.
He also showed that Jonathan Papelbon isn't the only outstanding
rookie pitcher on the Red Sox.Lester (5-0) allowed one hit in eight innings and Papelbon
pitched a perfect ninth, leading the Red Sox over the Kansas City
Royals 1-0 Tuesday night.Lester said he was surprised by his success in his first eight
major league starts but "I knew I could perform at this level."The emergence of Lester, who started the season at Triple-A
Pawtucket, has come at an important time for Boston. David Wells
and Matt Clement are on the disabled list and Tim Wakefield left
Monday night's 5-4 win over Kansas City after four innings with an
upper back strain."He's jumped right in and been a huge member of our staff,"
Red Sox manager Terry Francona said. "He's young, but that was a
good example of what he can do."Lester gave up just a clean single to center field in the second
to Mark Teahen, the only Royal to reach second base. The
left-hander, who made his major league debut June 10, struck out
four, walked four, allowed only five balls to leave the infield and
dropped his ERA to 2.38.He also is the first rookie left-hander in Red Sox history to
win his first five decisions, according to the Elias Sports Bureau."I hadn't ever seen him before and I was pretty impressed,"
Royals manager Buddy Bell said. "They have some pretty
good-looking young pitchers, that's for sure."Papelbon, who came up in the Red Sox system with Lester, retired
the Royals in the ninth on a strikeout and two grounders for his
major league-leading 28th save in 31 opportunities."These are the moments you cherish in baseball," Papelbon
said, "especially with us coming up through the ranks together."Boston scored in the fifth on a double by Jason Varitek and an
RBI single by Alex Gonzalez.Brandon Duckworth (1-3) allowed only that run and five hits in
six innings, but the Royals still suffered their seventh loss in
eight games."We played well enough to win, but you've got to give credit to
Lester," Duckworth said. "Whenever he got a guy on, it seemed
like he was able to get a groundball and get a double play."One run was enough against baseball's worst team.Francona said he didn't know if Lester would have gotten the
same results against a better team."You play who you play. That's what matters," he said.Lester pitched very efficiently, throwing 100 pitches, including
57 strikes. In his previous seven starts, he averaged 103 pitches
and 5 1-3 innings."Any time you can go deep into the game, it gives you a big
confidence booster," Lester said.The shutout was Boston's second in four games after going
without one for the first 88 games of the season.After Teahen grounded a single through the middle with one out,
he stole second but was stranded.Lester walked Esteban German with one out in the first then
struck out the next two batters. Mark Grudzielanek led off the
fourth with a walk and was caught stealing. Tony Graffanino walked
with two outs in that inning but was forced out at second.
Graffanino walked again in the seventh but was out on an
inning-ending double play."He's got some good stuff," Kansas City's Joey Gathright said
of Lester, "but we should have done a lot better than that."After Gonzalez singled home Varitek in the fifth, the Red Sox
threatened in the sixth when Manny Ramirez doubled with two outs
into the left-field corner on a high fly that the strong wind took
away from David DeJesus, who overran the ball. Trot Nixon was
walked intentionally before Mike Lowell flew out.
Varitek broke Carlton Fisk's team record when he caught his
991st game for the Red Sox. ... Kansas City's streak of 36 straight
games with at least one double, matching a club record, ended. ...
The Royals have lost 10 of their last 11 games at Fenway Park and
are 8-19 against lefty starters. ... Boston is 30-13 at Fenway, its
best record through 43 games there since 1979. ... Boston's last
combined one-hitter was by David Wells, Mike Timlin and Keith
Foulke in a 7-0 win over Cincinnati on June 14 last year.