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October 22, 2013

Lester looking like ace in the playoffs

BOSTON — Red Sox backup catcher David Ross has played with several hungry-to-win superstars, including the great Chipper Jones and Ken Griffey Jr.

So when Ross said yesterday that Red Sox southpaw starter Jon Lester was one of the top five competitors he’s ever played with ... well, that’s pretty high praise.

“He’s in the top five as far as just wanting to compete,” Ross said. “He expects perfection out of himself and sometimes to a fault.”

Lester — who has a 2.33 ERA in three starts this postseason — will be Boston’s World Series Game 1 starter. He will take the ball tomorrow when the St. Louis Cardinals and Boston Red Sox commence the 2013 Fall Classic here at Fenway Park (8:07 p.m. first pitch).

Ross said Lester’s drive for perfection could have been one of the left-hander’s downfalls last year. Lester posted a career-worst 4.82 ERA in 2012.

“He gets angry and gets mad when he doesn’t execute or some things go wrong because he’s passionate and I love that about him,” Ross said. “He’s just so passionate about competing.”

Often times last season, Lester looked extremely miserable on the mound as well as in the dugout and clubhouse. He recently told The Eagle-Tribune that it was difficult for him to have fun last year because of not pitching well and dealing with the turmoil that derailed the 2012 season.

Ross, who signed with Boston this past offseason, said, “The things I heard coming over here is how much pressure (Lester) put on himself last year. ... The guy is just a great competitor and great teammate and he wants that responsibility. He’s stepped up for us and been a stud — our horse. And that’s what we expect out of him. We know how good he is.”

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