Amid reports the Dodgers had made a waiver claim on Adrian Gonzalez, which spawned a rumored megadeal involving Josh Beckett, Carl Crawford, and Nick Punto, it appeared Friday night’s 4-3 victory over the Royals was precisely what the Red Sox needed to purge themselves of the bad karma that has haunted their 100th anniversary season at Fenway Park.
A crowd of 37,227 seemed energized not only by news of the potential blockbluster trade, but also by the return of designated hitter David Ortiz, who was activated from the disabled list after missing 35 games with a strained right Achilles’ tendon.
“He looked like a sight for sore eyes,’’ manager Bobby Valentine said of Ortiz, who went 2 for 4 with two RBIs in his first action since July 16. “He proved that he didn’t need a rehab assignment.’’
He then doubled to center in the third inning, showing a little more giddy-up than he did in his first at-bat.
“His first couple at-bats, that was kind of unreal,’’ said Dustin Pedroia. “I mean, he hasn’t seen a live pitch in I don’t know how long and he comes up there and hits two rockets. He’s a pretty special hitter.’’
Third baseman Pedro Ciriaco drove in the tying and go-ahead runs with a two-run double to left in the seventh off Kelvin Herrera, who had relieved starter Bruce Chen.
“It was a two-strike-battling hit off the end of the bat, but we’ll take it,’’ Valentine said.
Ciriaco has hit safely in 17 of his last 22 games, batting .368 with six doubles and eight RBIs in that span.
“Pedro’s playing at a very high level right now,” Valentine said.
Jon Lester (8-10) won for the third consecutive outing, working seven innings. He allowed three runs on six hits, including a solo homer by Eric Hosmer in the third, and had four walks and six strikeouts.
“Other than the homer to Hosmer, a pitch that was over the plate and he hit good, there weren’t a lot of hard-hit balls,’’ Valentine said. “He had the curveball, changeup, cutter, fastball all working for him.’’
Lester departed in the eighth with a left hamstring cramp after running the count to 3-and-0 on leadoff batter Billy Butler.
“He was absolutely a competitor today,’’ said catcher Ryan Lavarnway. “He wanted to be on the mound and he didn’t show any sign of weakness. They probably shouldn’t have sent him out for the eighth because he could barely straighten his leg in the dugout, but his stuff was so good that it was tough for us to take him out.’’
After snapping a seven-start winless streak with back-to-back wins over the Indians (14-1) and Yankees (4-1), Lester helped the Sox (60-66) snap a four-game losing streak, with Thursday’s 14-13, 10-inning loss to the Angels still lingering.
But he stumbled in the third, allowing the Royals to tie it, and then allowed the visitors to take a 3-2 lead on Johnny Giavotella’s bases-loaded infield single in the fourth.
“Obviously, early on, they were trying to ambush the fastball and get good pitches to hit,’’ Lester said. “But once we were able to slow them down with some breaking balls and changeups, we could pitch and could use the fastball a little bit more.’’
Lester minimized the damage in the fourth by striking out Lorenzo Cain (swinging) and getting Alcides Escobar to ground into a forceout.
He settled down and retired nine of the next 10 batters.
After Lester departed, Vicente Padilla, Andrew Miller, and Andrew Bailey got one out apiece in the eighth, and Bailey retired the Royals in 1-2-3 fashion in the ninth for his first save of the season.
“I would think that everything we do was meant to energize the team,’’ Valentine said, when asked about the potential positive impact of a megadeal with the Dodgers. “We lose together, we fight together, and we got through a lot of stuff together.
“It could help. But it’s hard to say, with Adrian not part of the team, that it’s definitely going to help because I haven’t been around a more professional, good guy, terrific player as him in a long time — if ever.’’