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Boston «013000000460
Atlanta000010000160

Lester doesn't disappoint in first victory with Red Sox

CBS SportsLine.com wire reports
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ATLANTA -- After a shaky debut, Jon Lester showed why he's considered one of the Boston's most touted young players.

Of course, it didn't hurt that the 22-year-old lefty was facing the free-falling Atlanta Braves.

Lester earned his first major league win with six good innings, Jason Varitek hit a three-run double and the Red Sox snapped a four-game losing streak with a 4-1 victory over the Braves on Friday night.

"You can't beat it," the rookie said. "It was a lot of fun."

Lester (1-0) gave up five hits, walked three and surrendered the lone Atlanta run on a sacrifice fly. Boston's first pick in the 2002 draft had five strikeouts.

That was an improvement over his debut last weekend, when he lasted 4 1/3 innings against Texas, giving up three runs and five hits with four walks.

"I pounded the zone better with my fastball," Lester said. "I had better command with everything, and just went right after them and made them hit it."

Rudy Seanez, Mike Timlin and rookie Jonathan Papelbon finished up for Lester, with each throwing a scoreless inning. Papelbon earned his 21st save in 22 chances and lowered his ERA to 0.27, though he seemed more pleased for Lester than himself.

"He just went out there and laid it on the line," Papelbon said. "A part of me was hoping that the game would stay right there (at 4-1) so I could be a part of his first big league win."

While Lester is looking up, the Braves are heading down. The team that has won a record 14 straight division titles lost for the 15th time in 18 games and fell to 30-38 with its fifth straight defeat.

The Braves have not been this far under .500 since the end of the 1990 season, when they wrapped up a last-place finish in the NL West at 65-97. Atlanta began its streak of division titles the following season and had not been more than seven games under .500 since then until Friday's loss.

The only consolation: The Braves didn't lose any ground in the NL East, remaining 13 games behind the first-place New York Mets, who lost 6-3 to Baltimore.

Atlanta went down meekly. Only one hitter reached base over the final four innings -- Matt Diaz, with a leadoff single in the ninth. He didn't get any farther.

"There's no experience in this locker room for a losing team," Diaz said. "Everybody is wondering when we're going to come out of this funk, when we're going to start winning games. I think we're all trying to do too much."

Tim Hudson (6-5) allowed only five hits in seven innings, but a streak of wildness in the third was his undoing.

After Coco Crisp led off with a walk, the right-hander retired the next two hitters. But Manny Ramirez walked, and Trot Nixon fouled off a 3-2 pitch before drawing ball four to load the bases.

Hudson got a sinker up to Varitek, who doubled off the center-field wall to drive home all three runners and give the Red Sox a 4-0 lead.

"I wish I had back the pitch to Varitek," Hudson said. "I walked some guys to set the inning up. I didn't want to give in to those guys. They had the meat of their lineup up, and I had an open base to play with. Obviously, it turned out to hurt me."

Varitek was glad to give the Red Sox a little cushion against Hudson.

"I ended up getting a mistake," the catcher said.

The Red Sox jumped ahead in the second, with Varitek chipping in. His single to right put two runners aboard, and Mike Lowell followed with an RBI single to center.

Lester breezed through the first four inning before running into trouble in the fifth. Todd Pratt led off with a single and Hudson moved the runner along with a sacrifice bunt. Marcus Giles followed with a single -- the slow-running Pratt holding at third -- and Edgar Renteria walked to load the bases.

Chipper Jones drove in Pratt with a sacrifice fly to right, and Lester walked Andruw Jones to load the bases again. But the young pitcher avoided the big inning by getting Jeff Francoeur on a grounder to shortstop.

Lester threw 93 pitches, 54 for strikes.

Braves first baseman Brian Jordan left the game in the top of the fourth after taking a grounder off his right shoulder. He sustained a bruised right shoulder blade and was listed as day to day.

Notes

  • Renteria was loudly booed by thousands of Red Sox fans among the sellout crowd of 51,038, the largest turnout of the season at Turner Field. Clearly, they haven't forgotten his one disappointing season in Boston before he was traded to the Braves last winter.
  • The Braves are mired in a 10-for-74 slump with runners in scoring position.
  • Hudson threw 123 pitches.
  • Both teams put starting pitchers on the disabled list before the game. Boston RHP Matt Clement is hampered by a strained shoulder, while Atlanta RHP John Thomson developed a severe blister on his right middle finger in his last start.
 
Copyright 2014 by STATS LLC and The Associated Press. Any commercial use or distribution without the express written consent of STATS LLC and The Associated Press is strictly prohibited.
 
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Trot Nixon slides home safe after Mike Lowell singles him home in the second inning.  (AP)
Trot Nixon slides home safe after Mike Lowell singles him home in the second inning. (AP)

Players of the Game
Boston

J. Varitek
AB 4
R 0
H 3
HR 0
RBI 3
Boston

J. Lester
IP 6.0
H 5
ER 1
BB 3
K 5
 
Boston Red Sox
Coco Crisp, CF3100100 .275
Mark Loretta, 2B4010001 .294
David Ortiz, 1B4000022 .259
    Mike Timlin, P0000000 .000
    Jonathan Papelbon, P0000000 .000
Manny Ramirez, LF3100111 .282
Trot Nixon, RF3210101 .320
Jason Varitek, C4033010 .262
Mike Lowell, 3B4011012 .316
Alex Cora, SS4000013 .260
Jon Lester, P2000012 .000
   a- J.T. Snow, PH1000000 .209
    Rudy Seanez, P0000000 .000
    Kevin Youkilis, 1B0000001 .319
Totals324643713 
a-flied out for Lester in the 7th
Batting
2B - Jason Varitek (8, Hudson)
RBI - Jason Varitek 3 (33), Mike Lowell (35)
2-OUT RBI - Jason Varitek 3 (18)
CS - Jason Varitek (2, 2nd base by Paronto/Pratt)
Team LOB - 4
Boston Red Sox
Jon Lester (W,1-0) 6511350 3.48
Rudy Seanez (H,2) 1000020 4.23
Mike Timlin (H,12) 1000010 1.27
Jonathan Papelbon (S,21) 1100000 0.27
Pitches-Strikes - Jon Lester 93-54, Rudy Seanez 14-8, Mike Timlin 7-6, Jonathan Papelbon 18-11
Ground Balls-Fly Balls - Jon Lester 6-7, Mike Timlin 1-1, Jonathan Papelbon 1-2
Batters Faced - Jon Lester 26, Rudy Seanez 3, Mike Timlin 3, Jonathan Papelbon 4
Atlanta Braves
Marcus Giles, 2B4020020 .241
Edgar Renteria, SS3000121 .321
Chipper Jones, 3B3011010 .288
Andruw Jones, CF3000101 .267
Jeff Francoeur, RF3000103 .246
Matt Diaz, LF4020000 .356
Brian Jordan, 1B1000010 .214
    Adam LaRoche, 1B3000003 .247
Todd Pratt, C3110020 .203
   a- Wilson Betemit, PH1000001 .291
Tim Hudson, P1000000 .103
   b- Pete Orr, PH1000000 .203
    Macay McBride, P0000000 .000
    Chad Paronto, P0000000 .000
   c- Brian McCann, PH1000001 .362
Totals311613810 
a-hit into fielder's choice for Pratt in the 9th
b-lined out for Hudson in the 7th
c-lined out for Paronto in the 9th
Batting
SF - Chipper Jones (3)
SH - Tim Hudson (6)
RBI - Chipper Jones (35)
Team LOB - 8
Atlanta Braves
Tim Hudson (L,6-5) 7544360 3.88
Macay McBride 1000000 3.79
Chad Paronto 1100010 2.37
WP - Tim Hudson (3)
Pitches-Strikes - Tim Hudson 123-75, Macay McBride 8-4, Chad Paronto 17-11
Ground Balls-Fly Balls - Tim Hudson 9-6, Macay McBride 2-1
Batters Faced - Tim Hudson 29, Macay McBride 3, Chad Paronto 3
Game Information
Attendance - 51038
Game Time - 2:48
Temperature - 87
Umpires - Home - Bruce Froemming, First Base - Mike Winters, Second Base - Brian Runge, Third Base - Paul Emmel