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Lester masterful as Red Sox slam Oakland
Boston Red Sox starting pitcher Jon Lester (31) pitches against the Oakland Athletics during the first inning at Fenway Park. (Mark L. Baer-USA TODAY Sports)
Lester, however, wasn't worried at all.
The southpaw struck out a career-high 15 batters and allowed only one hit over eight shutout innings, and left fielder Jonny Gomes hit a grand slam as the Boston Red Sox rolled to a 6-3 victory over the Oakland Athletics.
Designated hitter David Ortiz and catcher David Ross also hit home runs for the Red Sox, who won their second straight after dropping both ends of a doubleheader to Tampa Bay on Thursday.
"I think I've seen every lefty in the game now and for a while," Gomes said. "I saw (Andy) Pettitte and Randy Johnson early on, (Lester), and he's climbing the ladder as top - not only in the league, in the game - but he's getting up there with lefties that have played this game.
Lester carved up the first-place Athletics, striking out nine of the first 12 batters and retiring 20 of the first 22, allowing only a bloop single to shallow right field by left fielder Craig Gentry leading off the third.
His afternoon came to an end when he got right fielder Josh Reddick looking at his 119th pitch.
Manager John Farrell also has seen some dazzling outings from Lester, who pitched a no-hitter in 2008 and went 4-1 with a 1.56 ERA during last year's playoffs to help the Red Sox win the World Series.
"He could have pitched against pretty much anybody today, the way he commanded things, but to shut down an offense as strong as theirs has been throughout the course of this year, it adds to it," Farrell said.
"I try to throw every ball as hard as I can for as long as I can," Lester said. "I can't look myself in the mirror after the game knowing that I tried to pace myself. I want to make sure I leave everything out there."
Chris Capuano faced four batters in the ninth, failing to record an out while giving up an RBI double to shortstop Jed Lowrie that led to a second run on a throwing error by Gomes.
"And then to get those kind of at-bats in the ninth inning, it's good. It should help out leading into tomorrow."
Tommy Milone (0-3) loaded the bases on a single and two walks before Gomes deposited his first pitch into the seats above the Green Monster.
"I swung at every single pitch I saw today, but they were all strikes," Gomes said. "They came right after me like they do everyone, and it worked out the first at-bat."
Milone gave up six runs and six hits over four-plus innings, striking out five and walking four.
NOTES: DH David Ortiz's home run was the 437th of his career and 379th as a member of the Red Sox, tying Dwight Evans for fourth on the club's all-time list. ... Oakland 3B Josh Donaldson was hit by a pitch in the ninth, extending his on-base streak to 25 games. ... LHP John Lester's previous career best was 13 strikeouts on July 24, 2010, in a 5-1 loss to Seattle. ... The Red Sox have hit three grand slams this season. ... LF Jonny Gomes' last grand slam came against Minnesota on May 8, 2013. ... Oakland RHP Sonny Gray (4-1, 1.76) will oppose Boston RHP John Lackey (4-2, 3.83) in the finale of the three-game series Sunday.