Jon Lester tossed eight-plus shutout innings against the San Francisco Giants on Monday (AP photo Chris O'Meara)
Jon Lester was a Giant-killer Monday night at AT&T Park in San Francisco, tossing eight-plus effortless innings to lead the Red Sox to a 7-0 interleague shutout over the Giants in the opener of a three-game set in The City By The Bay.
Lester’s cutter was cutting the whole night, and the lefty only allowed six singles, retiring the first nine he faced until giving up a hit to Andres Torres to lead off the bottom of the fourth inning. With the 115-pitch win, Lester moved to 11-7 on the year and lowered his ERA to 4.09. Versatile fill-in reliever Brandon Workman came on in the ninth with two men on and struck out both batters he faced to keep the Giants off the board.
For the Giants, Tim Lincecum only survived five innings, giving up five runs on nine hits while walking four to fall to 6-13 with a 4.53 ERA. While Guillermo Moscoso put in an admirable effort in relief, pitching three innings and striking out four, Jose Mijares came on in the ninth and allowed two more runs to the Sox on three hits. Two of the Red Sox runs came courtesy of gifts from Giants pitchers — on a balk by Lincecum and a wild pitch by Moscoso.
Shane Victorino — who played in the Senior Circuit for a decade before signing a three-year deal with Boston in the offseason — showed his wealth of experience at the plate, going 3 for 4 with an RBI. Outfielder Daniel Nava also recorded a 3 for 4 night with an RBI, while three more single runs were driven in courtesy of Jarrod Saltalamacchia, Stephen Drew and Will Middlebrooks.
The win was a double boon for Boston, as the Tampa Bay Rays outlasted the Baltimore Orioles 4-3 earlier in the evening to stay within a game of the Red Sox’s first-place pace in the American League East.
Here are the four at-bats that changed the game:
1) Where there’s a Will...: Third baseman Middlebrooks has been on fire since being recalled from Pawtucket purgatory August 10, hitting safely in all eight games in which he’s played with a .462 average, one homer and four RBI. While he went hitless at the plate Monday — thanks in part to two intentional walks issued by Lincecum — he still collected an RBI courtesy of a sacrifice fly in the second that cashed in Saltalamacchia for the first run of the game.
2) Designated Pitcher: Due to the National League venue, Lester had to put down the leather and pick up the stick as the ninth spot in the order, and he put together one of the most important at-bats in the game in the second. With men on the corners and Lester squaring to bunt, Lincecum committed a balk that reeled Nava in from third for a 2-0 lead and moved Drew to second. Then, two pitches later, Lester laid down a sacrifice bunt to advance Drew to third. Two batters later, Victorino would bring Drew home for the 3-0 lead when he singled to center.
3) Double Trouble: With two out and a man on in the fifth, Drew ripped a deep double to center that allowed Nava to score all the way from first for Boston’s fourth run of the game.
4) So-so Moscoso: With David Ortiz at the plate and Jacoby Ellsbury at third with two out in the sixth, Moscoso unleashed a wild pitch that allowed Ellsbury to race home for a 5-0 advantage.
Tomorrow, Jake Peavy (1-1, 5.00 ERA) makes his fourth start for the Sox since the trade-deadline swap for Jose Iglesias. He’ll take on Ryan Vogelsong, who is 2-4 with a 6.75 ERA for San Francisco in 2013. Peavy is 12-9 lifetime with a 3.51 ERA in 164 innings versus the Giants, while Vogelsong is 0-0 with a 3.00 ERA in only three innings of work against Boston in his career.