Lester struck out 12 over six innings for his first win in six weeks and the Red Sox cranked out 16 hits in routing the Cleveland Indians 14-1 Sunday to salvage a four-game split.
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"A laugher and we needed it," manager Bobby Valentine said. "The guys had a good time."
Best of all, Lester (6-10) earned his first win since beating Toronto on June 27. Between wins, he was 0-5 with a 7.49 ERA.
"It's nice to win," said Lester. "My confidence never strayed. I knew my stuff was there. I had to keep telling myself that.
"Scoring all those runs helps," he added. "It takes pressure off me to try and be perfect."
Boston built a 6-1 lead against Corey Kluber (0-1) and scored its most runs since hammering Miami 15-5 in an interleague game June 20.
"We sure hit a lot of balls in the gap," Valentine said. "I liked it. I liked it a lot."
Lester was on cruise control with the lead. He gave up three hits and one run to move to 5-1 lifetime against Cleveland though Boston won for only the fourth time in 12 games.
Cleveland is 3-2 after falling from contention in the AL Center with 11 straight losses.
"It was catch-up baseball from the get-go," Indians manager Manny Acta said. "It's not fun at all when you come to the plate and you're down by five runs."
Lester threw his fastball on both sides of the plate and mixed in a sharp curve. It was his 17th career game of 10 or more strikeouts, one behind Joe Wood, who is third in Red Sox history behind Pedro Martinez (72) and Roger Clemens (68).
"He started using his curve in the third inning and that made all the difference," Valentine said.
The left-hander posted at least 15 wins each of the past four seasons, going 65-32 overall, but opened this year 0-2, including an embarrassing 18-3 loss to Texas on April 17 in which he gave up seven runs over two innings.
He went 5-3 over the next two months before enduring the toughest stretch of his career.
"You come to a point where you have to forget stats and just go out and try to keep your team in the game," Lester said. "Let this offense get a chance."
Boston batters gave Lester some space, staking him to a 3-0 lead in the first. Dustin Pedroia had an RBI double and scored on Gonzalez's 13th homer.
A sacrifice fly by Carlos Santana cut it to 3-1 in the bottom half. Lester was happy to give up only one run after singles by Jason Donald and Asdrubal Cabrera put runners on first and third with no outs.
"To minimize it to one run with no outs was big," Lester said. "That's what I have been missing."
Then the Red Sox poured it on.
Crawford lined a two-run double in the second and ex-Indian Kelly Shoppach's broken-bat RBI single in the fourth made it 6-1.
An eight-run fifth off relievers Josh Tomlin and Frank Herrmann featured two-run doubles by Jacoby Ellsbury and Gonzalez. Cody Ross and Jarrod Saltalamacchia each hit RBI singles, Danny Valencia had a sacrifice fly and Crawford another RBI double.
Tomlin, dropped from the rotation on July 31, will have his right elbow examined in Cleveland and will not make the Indians' trip that begins Monday in Los Angeles. He didn't pitch last September due to a sore elbow and admitted Sunday he had not told Acta that it's bothered him for more than a month.
"I felt like I could go out there and get outs," Tomlin said. "Apparently I couldn't. It didn't hurt every single day, but there were days it did hurt."
It was the eighth time since the All-Star break that Cleveland gave up 10-plus runs. The Indians are 9-21 and their starting rotation has a 6.71 ERA over that stretch.
Kluber gave up six runs and seven hits over 3 1/3 innings, his shortest outing in three career starts.
- Boston 3B Will Middlebrooks does not need surgery on his broken right wrist, though he is still likely out for the season.
- Gonzalez had eight RBI in the series and 22 in his last 16 games overall.
- Santana moved from first base to left field in the sixth, his first outfield appearance in 300 career games. He last played there in 2008 in Class-A ball.
- Boston reliever Clayton Mortenson struck out in the ninth. He batted after Valentine rested players with the big lead and lost use of the designated hitter in a series of lineup changes.
- . The Indians released INF Jose Lopez, who was designated for assignment Aug. 7. They released OF Johnny Damon and RHPs Derek Lowe and Jeremy Accardo earlier in the week.
- Cleveland opens a nine-game trip to Los Angeles, Oakland and Seattle on Monday.
- The Red Sox continue their nine-game trip with three-game series at AL rivals Baltimore and New York.