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The Red Sox will escape facing Jared Weaver in this series with the Angels, but co-ace Dan Haren lined up against Sox ace Jon Lester Friday night. Terry Francona could hardly have asked for a better pitcher from his staff to handle the responsibility of winning a game for the manager’s birthday, and Lester proved up to the task.
Both pitchers hit the ground running: Lester struck out the side and Haren retired the first seven batters he faced before giving up a double to Jarrod Saltalamacchia.
While sliding into third base in a close play, Salty lost his thumb guard – a piece of white plastic – which the umpire may have thought was the ball. Salty was called safe, but Angels manager Mike Scioscia had the first of several heated arguments during the game with the officials over the close call.
In the bottom of the eighth, Bobby Jenks entered the game and things started to get interesting with a passed ball and two quick runs. However, the Angels pinch hit for Mark Trumbo with veteran utility infielder Macier Izturis, who grounded out to end the inning.
Jonathan Papelbon, having pitched two straight days, was scheduled for a day off, but after the mini-meltdown by Jenks, Francona called upon his closer to shut the door on the Angels and hold 4-3 lead. Twelve pitches later, Papelbon recorded his third third straight save.
Lester put up another quality start. It was not his most efficient outing, needing 111 pitches to get through just six innings of work, but Lester held the Angels to just four hits and no runs while striking out eight.
If he were a cartoon character, Carl Crawford would have a storm cloud hanging over his head at all times. Fortune continues to elude the Sox big free agent addition as Crawford added another 0-4 to his Red Sox resume. On the bright side, when he did reach base he turned it into steal number four on the season.
W: Lester (2-1)
L: Haren (4-1)