BOSTON -- Jon Lester certainly knew what was happening. It was right in front of him every time he walked to the mound.
Lester had a perfect game for 6 1/3 innings before finishing with a two-hit complete game in the Red Sox's 8-1 victory over the Texas Rangers on Saturday night.
Why Lester Won
• Jon Lester threw his fastball 72 times against the Rangers and it was a strike 69 percent of the time.
• Rangers hitters were 2-for-18 against Lester's fastball with six strikeouts, including 11 swings and misses.
• Batters swung and missed 21 times against Lester, a career high and the second highest total in MLB this season (23, six times). Lester was averaging 10.8 misses a game, coming into Saturday's start.
-- ESPN Stats & Information
"It's hard not to think about it when you've got the Green Monster out there. It's in your face the whole time," Lester said about the zeros for runs and hits across the Texas linescore on the left-field wall. "I was real happy it was a well-struck ball. It wasn't an infield hit or anything like that."Michael Young doubled into the gap in left-center with one out in the seventh to break up Lester's bid for a perfect game. After letting out a loud groan as the ball rolled to the wall, the sold-out crowd gave Lester a standing ovation.Young also singled in the ninth.Slumping slugger David Oritz and Mike Lowell had solo homers for Boston.Lester (5-5), the club's most reliable postseason pitcher last year when he threw a no-hitter on May 19 against Kansas City, got off to a slow start this season, giving up 11 runs in his first two starts.But Saturday, he showed how dominating he can be, striking out 11 and walking just two. It was his third career complete game."I had thoughts of a guy really pitching well," Red Sox manager Terry Francona said. "His stuff from the get-go was powerful."Lester struck out nine of the first 15 batters he faced, getting four swinging at pitches down outside the strike zone -- including the side in the fourth."That was just lights out," Young said. "That was one of the best games I've seen in my career by a pitcher."Oritz, mired in a season-long slump, connected for the second time this season and first since May 20. Lowell homered -- after having his double overturned by video review."That's how you get back to hitting balls and start hitting well, put a good swing on a ball," Ortiz said. "Even though you don't get the good luck, it will come."Texas scored on Andruw Jones' sacrifice fly in the ninth.Lester, the hard-throwing left-hander once rumored to be possible trade bait when Minnesota was looking to deal lefty Johan Santana, was overpowering early, mixing in a number of sharp curveballs and cut fastballs that made many of the Rangers' hitters miss badly."The guy had good stuff and he was in the strike zone with it," Rangers manager Ron Washington said. "He made us swing the bat."In the fourth, Lester fanned Ian Kinsler and Jones with curveballs, and Young with a fastball. The pitch to Jones was in the dirt inside the plate."I was able to get guys on swings and misses," Lester said. "Not all of them were in the zone, which is good."In 2006, Lester missed the end of the season after he was diagnosed with a rare form of non-Hodgkin's lymphoma. A year later, he was the starting and winning pitcher in the Game 4 finale in the 2007 World Series.Lowell was awarded his homer after umpires used video review to overturn their on-field call of a double in the second inning to give Boston a 1-0 lead against Derek Holland (1-3).Boston chased Holland with a three-run fifth highlighted by Jason Bay's two-run single that made it 4-0.Ortiz homered on a line drive just inside the right-field pole for his second of the season to key a four-run sixth against Kris Benson that made it 8-0. Pedroia and Kevin Youkilis added RBI singles.Lowell's line drive near the left-field pole bounced first off a ledge in the front row of the Green Monster Seats and caromed onto the field.The replay review system was used for the third time in four games at Fenway Park. The Red Sox lost the previous two.Jeff Kellogg, the third-base umpire and crew chief, signaled the ball was in play as Lowell headed to second, but when the umpires returned from the review Kellogg came up from Boston's dugout steps and signaled that it was a homer.
Boston RHP John Smoltz, recovering from offseason shoulder surgery, pitched six innings for Triple-A Pawtucket on Saturday night, allowing one run on three hits with two walks and three strikeouts in his fourth rehab start. ... Texas LHP Matt Harrison, on the disabled list with shoulder inflammation, pitched three innings, allowing three hits and one run in a rehab start for Double-A Frisco on Saturday.