Rapid Reaction: Sox 3, Jays 2

July, 5, 2011

BOSTON -- Bad news for the Boston starting rotation continued Tuesday night when left-hander Jon Lester was removed from the game after four no-hit innings with a left lat muscle strain.

Depending on the severity of the injury, typically a lat strain could sideline a pitcher for 2-4 weeks, according to a team source.

With their ace out of the game, the Red Sox were able to hold on and beat the Toronto Blue Jays 3-2 on a strong performance by relievers Matt Albers, Franklin Morales and Daniel Bard.

Prior to his exit, Lester was cruising and allowed only one baserunner, on a walk to Edwin Encarnacion to lead off the top of the third inning. Lester retired the next six batters he faced before being removed after the top of the fourth. He finished with five strikeouts and threw only 50 pitches, 35 for strikes.

The Red Sox have already lost Daisuke Matsuzaka (Tommy John surgery) for the season. Clay Buchholz will be examined by a back specialist in North Carolina on Wednesday and John Lackey, who spent time on the disabled list with an elbow strain, continues to be a major question mark.

Lester entered his 18th start of the season with a 10-4 record, along with a 3.43 ERA.

ALL-OUT ALBERS: With Lester out of the game, right-handed reliever Matt Albers was summoned from the bullpen and worked two scoreless innings, allowing only one hit with two walks and two strikeouts. He’s tossed more than one inning 10 times this season, including a season-high two innings seven times.

HAIRY FINISH: Jonathan Papelbon recorded his 18th save of the season, but not without some tense moments. Papelbon allowed a two-run homer to the Jays’ Jose Bautista with no outs in the top of the ninth to make it 3-2. Then, with two outs and runners on first and second, John McDonald looped a single to left but Darnell McDonald threw Edwin Encarnacion out at the plate to end the game, with Jason Varitek doing a great job blocking the plate.

"Tek deserves a save there," manager Terry Francona said. "Quite a way to end a game."

BULLY FOR THE BULLPEN: After Albers’ heroics, left-hander Franklin Morales worked a perfect seventh inning and righty Daniel Bard allowed one hit in the eighth before Papelbon got the save.

YOUK WHO? With Red Sox cleanup hitter Kevin Youkilis out of the lineup for Tuesday’s game with a swelling and tightness in his left trapezius muscle after he was hit in the back by a pitch in the fourth inning on Monday, manager Terry Francona put Dustin Pedroia into the No. 4 hole in the Sox order. In eight career games (six starts) as Boston’s cleanup hitter, the second baseman is 15-for-29 (.517) with four home runs. He crushed a solo shot over the Monster with two outs in the bottom of the third off Toronto starter Brett Cecil to give Boston a 3-0 lead. Don’t get used to it, however, because Youkilis is expected to be back in the lineup Wednesday night.

Joe McDonald

ESPN Staff Writer



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