BOSTON — Winning is one thing. Winning four games after Red Sox losses in entirely another.
Red Sox starter Jon Lester is quickly moving up the ladder of major league pitchers, improving to 9-3 after another impressive outing in the 9-2 win for the Red Sox last night.
He has dominated the New York Yankees twice in the month of July, shutting them out in a complete-game victory on July 3 at Yankee Stadium and then going seven innings, allowing nine hits and two earned runs last night. Over that two-game stretch, he struck out 16 batters and walked only three in 16 innings of work.
"That's twice in a row he has been in total control of us," said Yankee Johnny Damon. "Right now, he's one of the better pitchers around. I'm impressed. The Red Sox have a good one in that kid."
True to form, Lester got in and out of trouble a lot last night.
He allowed a runner in scoring position in three of the first four innings without allowing any to score. In the third inning the Yankees had runners on first and second with no outs. In the third inning, Alex Rodriguez began the inning with a double, only to be stranded on third.
But Lester's best work was in the fifth inning with the bases loaded and no outs after the Yankees had already scored two runs in the inning.
Lester got A-Rod to line out to third. Xavier Nady to fly out to shallow center. And then he induced an easy ground back to the pitcher.
The Yankees never were a threat again.
"He made some pitches," said Yankees manager Joe Girardi. "He's been very good against us this year."
Yankees shortstop Derek Jeter said Lester's control was the difference last night.