By RICK GANO
AP Sports Writer
CHICAGO (AP) – There’s a season-long trend that makes Jon Lester
happy and helps make his job easier: the Boston Red Sox crank up
their offense when he pitches.
Lester pitched eight strong innings Saturday night and the Red
Sox used two big innings, homers from Adrian Gonzalez and Kevin
Youkilis, and three RBIs from Marco Scutaro to beat the Chicago
White Sox 10-2.
“These guys, there aren’t going to be too many games where
they’re held down. It’s fun to watch. We get kind of spoiled
pitching behind those guys,” said Lester, who entered the game
with an average run support of seven this season. “They swing the
bats great, play good defense – it was a good game all around for
Lester was efficient, had a low pitch count for most of the
night – he finished with 97 – and had command of the game in just
his second outing since coming off the disabled list with a
He also helped the Red Sox end a seven-game losing streak
against the White Sox.
“It was obviously good. Pitch count was down against an
aggressive team,” Lester said, crediting catcher Jarrod
Saltalamacchia for calling a good game.
“Salty did a great job back there, mixing off-speed pitches
both ahead and behind in the count. For the most part, I was able
to keep my fastball down. It’s always good to keep the fastball
down and get bad contact.”
Lester (11-4) allowed two runs and four hits with a walk and
eight strikeouts to get his first victory since June 30. He lost
the shutout in the seventh when Paul Konerko hit his 25th homer,
and he also gave up a solo shot to Gordon Beckham in the eighth.
Boston put it away with five runs in the ninth. The Red Sox
finished with 15 hits.
Gonzalez, who missed Friday night’s game with a stiff neck, hit
his 18th homer in the ninth, a two-run shot off reliever Brian
Bruney. His first homer since July 7 gave him 89 RBIs this season.
Youkilis then followed with his 15th homer to push the lead to
six. Saltalamacchia added an RBI double and Scutaro a run-scoring
Boston broke a scoreless tie in the fifth with four runs against
Phil Humber (8-7) as Carl Crawford singled, stole second and
reached third on catcher A.J. Pierzynski’s throwing error.
Saltalamacchia hit an RBI double, moved to third on a bunt single
by Josh Reddick and scored on Scutaro’s sacrifice fly for a 2-0
Jacoby Ellsbury followed with a single and stole second, putting
runners at second and third before Dustin Pedroia hit another
sacrifice fly for a three-run cushion. After Gonzalez was walked
intentionally, Youkilis hit a broken-bat liner that went off third
baseman Brent Morel’s glove for an RBI single that ended Humber’s
Scutaro added an RBI single to right center in the eighth as
Reddick scored all the way from first when Beckham couldn’t handle
a late throw from center fielder Alex Rios. Rios, who has struggled
all season, was booed loudly after the play.
“We have a knack for doing that (scoring in bunches). We didn’t
do a whole lot early,” Boston manager Terry Francona said. “We
still worked the count, and once we got the opportunity, we kept
the line moving. We just kept going. Reddick’s baserunning was
Chicago manager Ozzie Guillen said Rios just didn’t make a good
throw on the play.
“Bad thing about that play is bad throw to second base. He make
a bad throw to second. That’s why he scores. He throws the ball
right, there is going to be a play at the plate,” Guillen said.
But it was the White Sox offense that had the most trouble
against Lester. Chicago had scored seven runs and drew five walks
off the lefty in just 5 2-3 innings when they faced him at Fenway
Park in late May, winning the game 7-3.
“Today he was around the plate. Last time we faced him in
Boston he was all over the place. His command was wild,” Guillen
said. “Today he threw a lot of strikes.”
Humber, who was Chicago’s most consistent starter in the first
half of the season, hadn’t pitched since July 17. He’d been
assigned temporarily to the bullpen after a rainout forced the
White Sox to rearrange their rotation and to give him some rest. He
didn’t see any work as a reliever, and now has lost his last three
starts, giving up 24 hits and 14 earned runs in 14 innings.
Humber surrendered six hits and the four runs in 4 2-3 innings,
but said he didn’t feel rusty after not pitching for 13 days. He
looked at the tape of the fifth inning.
“A few infield hits there. Just couldn’t work out of it,” he
said. “Overall I was pretty pleased with how I threw the ball. Was
hoping for a different result. … I felt like I was pretty sharp.
Like I said, I felt like I threw the ball pretty well.”
Notes: White Sox general manager Ken Williams said it’s unlikely
the team will be making any more trades before Sunday’s deadline.
… The Red Sox announced they had signed catcher Jordan Weems, a
third-round draft pick this year, and also third baseman Nick
Moore, who was selected in the 30th round. … Konerko’s homer was
the 390th of his career. It ties him with Graig Nettles for 53rd
place on the all-time list. … Mike Aviles, acquired earlier in
the day from Kansas City, played third for the Red Sox in the
bottom of the ninth. … Reliever Jason Frasor made his White Sox
debut by pitching two-thirds of an inning. He was acquired in a
trade with Toronto on Wednesday.
(Copyright 2011 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)