The only time Jon Lester experiences any loss against the Baltimore Orioles is whenever he's asked about why he so thoroughly dominates them.
Lester, the Red Sox's ace left-hander, tossed eight strong innings Thursday night in a 6-2 victory that helped avert a three-game sweep and improved his career mark against the Orioles to 14-0 in 17 starts. It marks the longest active winning streak by any pitcher against one team.
So, what gives?
"If I knew the answer to that, I'd do well against everybody," Lester said. "I just pitch well against this team. I just really don't know. I'm aware of the track record I have against them, but I don't know how to explain it. I feel comfortable against them. I really like pitching here at this park. I've always felt good here."
Indeed, Lester is 7-0 with a 2.47 ERA in his career at Camden Yards. On Thursday night, he allowed two runs on only four hits and threw 108 pitches, marking his fifth consecutive start of not allowing more than three runs. After Derrek Lee's RBI single in the first inning, Lester didn't yield another hit until Vladimir Guerrero's game-tying, solo homer with two outs in the sixth.
Red Sox manager Terry Francona attributed Lester's success to a bat-slowing changeup that augmented his usually devastating cutter.
"He threw his changeup about as good as he's ever thrown," Francona said. "Some of those hitters, he really slowed them down. He was really good, and he needed to be to give us enough time (to score). He gave us a chance."
Since Opening Day, when he allowed three home runs in a loss to the Texas Rangers, Lester is 3-1 with a 1.59 ERA.
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