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Red Sox notebook

Situation was advantageous

With early lead, Lester focused

By Peter Abraham
Globe Staff / May 26, 2011

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CLEVELAND — Jon Lester rarely smiles when he speaks to reporters, even after his best performances. But he has been borderline furious recently.

The lefthander had allowed 14 earned runs on 24 hits and 11 walks over 17 1/3 innings in his previous three starts before he took the mound against the Indians yesterday.

That Lester won two of those games didn’t matter to him. He had to start pitching better.

Six shutout innings eased any concerns. Lester allowed three hits with one walk and struck out seven in a 14-2 victory.

“Obviously a lot better, the results speak for themselves,’’ he said. “I wasn’t executing pitches at the right times and I was able to do that today and keep the ball down. I threw the ball pretty good.’’

Lester took the mound in the first inning after the Red Sox had scored seven runs. He gave up two-out singles to Shin-Soo Choo and Shelley Duncan before retiring the next 15 batters.

After the Indians put two runners on with two outs in the sixth, Lester got Duncan on a grounder back to the mound.

“It’s tough to sometimes pitch with those leads,’’ he said. “But you just have to try to focus on taking it one pitch at a time. For the most part I was able to do that.’’

Having a big lead allowed the Sox to end Lester’s day after 97 pitches. Dan Wheeler, Franklin Morales, and Scott Atchison each threw an inning in relief.

Youkilis, Drew sit Kevin Youkilis was scratched from the lineup because of a sore left hand, the result of two separate incidents.

He was hit on the hand by a pitch from Justin Masterson in the second inning Monday. Then on Tuesday, he landed hard on that hand while making a diving play in the seventh inning.

“I think it got better as the day went on,’’ said Francona. “He told me to give him a call in the morning, but I think he’ll be OK.’’

Deflecting questions about his condition, Youkilis said, “I’ll be in there.’’

Youkilis had season-ending surgery last August on a torn ligament in his left thumb. But this latest injury is not believed to be related.

Drew, meanwhile, was out of the lineup with a sore right hamstring, the result of chasing down a fly ball in foul ground in the ninth inning Tuesday. He is not likely to play today.

“He kind of strained his hammy a little bit,’’ Francona said. “I don’t think it’s something that’s going to be a prolonged absence.’’

Drew left the clubhouse walking with a slight limp and told the training staff that trying to run could cause further problems.

Mike Cameron replaced Drew in right field and went 2 for 4 with an RBI. Drew Sutton played third base for Youkilis and was 3 for 5 with two doubles.

Aceves ready for more Alfredo Aceves is scheduled to make his second start of the season in Detroit this afternoon. He went five innings against the Cubs Saturday, throwing 86 pitches. “I feel good,’’ Aceves said. “My body feels like I can throw 100 pitches or six innings, something like that. I’ll do whatever they want me to do.’’ With John Lackey not expected back until June 5 and Daisuke Matsuzaka out indefinitely, Aceves and Tim Wakefield will remain in the rotation. “Every time they get a start under their belt, they should start building up some endurance,’’ said Francona. The manager said Aceves looked strong in the fifth inning Saturday. “He was throwing the ball fine,’’ said Francona. “It’s not always just a number [of pitches]. When you have a number in mind, they better be staying in their delivery when they get there.’’

Jenks throws again Bobby Jenks threw 30 pitches in the bullpen before the game, the latest step in his return from biceps tendinitis. He threw mainly fastballs but mixed in a few sliders and changeups. He next will throw a simulated game or extended bullpen session tomorrow. From there, a minor league rehab assignment could follow. “It’s just a matter of one or two more times off the mound before I’m ready,’’ he said. Jenks said he feels comfortable mechanically after correcting some issues that led to his posting a 9.35 ERA in 11 appearances.

Hit parade The Sox had 20 hits, their season high. Nine came in the first inning. The last time they had that many hits in an inning was May 7, 2009, against the Indians. They were the most hits in a first inning by the Sox since June 27, 2003, against the Marlins, a 25-3 game at Fenway Park . . . Red Sox starting pitchers have had 12 scoreless outings, the most in the majors . . . The Indians drew 69,385 to the three-game series, 40,243 more than they did for the three-game series against the Sox April 5-7. Those games were played in wintry weather during the first week of the season . . . The Sox are now 11-12 on the road after starting 0-7 . . . The charter flight to Detroit after the game was delayed by storms in the area, prompting a group of players to take a three-hour bus ride instead . . . David Ortiz is hitting .303, the first time he has been over .300 this late in a season since 2007 . . . The Sox are 2-4 against the Indians and will play a four-game series against the Tribe starting Aug. 1 at Fenway Park.

Peter Abraham can be reached at pabraham@globe.com. Follow him on Twitter @peteabe.

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