"He's taken steps to be a more complete pitcher," Sox captain Jason Varitek said of Lester. "We've added some stuff to his repertoire and he's expanding what he can do."
After being swept for the first time in franchise history by Tampa Bay last weekend, the Red Sox returned the favor and outscored the Rays in the series 26-10. None of the Tampa Bay starters in the three-game series made it out of the fourth inning.
"This is not devastating for this group," Rays manager Joe Maddon said. "Sometimes people tend to get overwhelmingly negative, but we will rebound from this. When you play the Red Sox, things are going to happen in a negative way sometimes."
Lester (2-2) allowed a run and four hits with three walks. His 13-inning scoreless streak was snapped when Carlos Pena hit his seventh home run of the season, cutting Boston's lead to 4-1 in the sixth.
"It's fun when you see young guys take some of the things they work on into a game and have success with it," Red Sox manager Terry Francona said. "It allows your offense time when you're not battling back from a deficit."
Kazmir was chased after allowing four runs in four innings in his season debut. He had been out since straining his elbow in February.
"My arm felt great, but I was doing a little too much," Kazmir said. "I felt like I was battling myself the whole time, but I'll be fine."
Jonathan Papelbon got the final four outs to record his ninth save in nine chances for Boston.
Youkilis had a pair of doubles and a solo shot, his third home run of the season off Dan Wheeler in the seventh inning for a 5-3 lead. His two-run double in the eighth off Scott Dohmann extended Boston's lead to 7-3.
"Our offense came back and got us within a run and I didn't do my job," Wheeler said. "(Youkilis) is in the number three hole for a reason."
Tampa Bay scored a pair in the seventh off Manny Delcarmen. Jason Bartlett hit a one out single and then scored on Akinori Iwamura's tripled to deep center. Hideki Okajima relieved Delcarmen, but was greeted with an RBI single by Carl Crawford to cut the lead to 4-3. Okajima struck out B.J. Upton and Pena to end the inning.
After a Youkilis sacrifice fly gave Boston a 1-0 lead in the first inning, the Sox added two more in the third. Dustin Pedroia led off the inning with a single, Youkilis doubled and then Pedroia scored on a passed ball by Kazmir. Manny Ramirez then doubled off the wall to knock in Youkilis for a 3-0 lead.
Coco Crisp scored Boston's fourth run when he led off the fourth with a single, stole second and advanced to third on an error before scoring on a Pedroia groundout.
Upton returned for Tampa Bay, who was swept in a three-game series for the first time this season and has dropped four of six.
Boston stole five bases and finished 5-1 on the homestand.
- David Ortiz was scratched from the starting lineup with tightness in his right knee.
- Kazmir was activated from the disabled list and OF Justin Ruggiano was optioned to the minors.
- Tampa Bay has used 35 players on the active roster this season, most in the majors.
- Tampa Bay has only won two series in 28 chances in Boston.
- Pedroia has seven hits in his last thirteen at bats after going 0-for-11 in the previous series against Toronto.