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No raining on Lester’s parade

Lefthander keeps good streak going

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By Michael Vega
Globe Staff / August 28, 2011

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Jon Lester has never claimed to be a meteorologist, but he felt Hurricane Irene posed little threat to him in the first game of yesterday’s doubleheader against the Oakland A’s.

“I knew, obviously, tonight we had the threat of rain,’’ Lester said. “But I figured that this afternoon was going to be fine and it wasn’t going to be a problem.

“But, obviously, I was wrong on that.’’

Good thing Lester hasn’t given up his day job to supplant Harvey Leonard.

When Lester went out to warm up for the seventh inning, the playing conditions had worsened because of a downpour.

“The mound wasn’t that bad,’’ said Lester. “It was just that any time you took the ball out of your glove, it was wet. I had no grip and I was trying to explain that to the umpires.’’

When his second warm-up pitch to catcher Jason Varitek missed its mark by a wide margin, Lester had succeeded in making his point.

“When the second one went off the backstop,’’ Lester said, “I think they finally got the idea that it wasn’t safe to be out there at that time.’’

For the A’s, the working conditions were that much more treacherous with Lester on the mound, wheeling and dealing as he did, for six strong innings in a 9-3 victory.

“That was really the only inning I went out there and it was raining,’’ said Lester, who picked up his 14th win of the season and lowered his earned run average to 3.09 after allowing two runs (one earned) on three hits and a pair of walks while striking out four batters.

It was another sterling outing for the lefthander, who has allowed one earned run or less in each of his last three starts, going 3-0 with a 1.69 ERA.

“The two before this one had a few too many walks,’’ Lester said. “I think if I can minimize those, like today, it was pretty good and I was able to attack the zone and stay pretty consistent with it.

“But as far as results, yeah, I’ll take ’em.’’

The only blemishes on his day were the four stolen bases the A’s had off him and the leadoff homer by catcher Kurt Suzuki in the second inning.

“The home run he gave up was a pretty good pitch, a pretty good swing,’’ said Varitek. “Other than that, they manufactured runs. So it was pretty good.’’

After giving up another run in the third on Coco Crisp’s sacrifice fly to center that scored Jemile Weeks, Lester retired nine of the next 11 batters he faced before departing the game after it was delayed by rain for 45 minutes before the start of the seventh.

At no time, however, did Lester feel a sense of urgency to get the Sox back on track after Friday night’s 15-5 loss to the A’s.

“It sounds bad but I don’t worry about those other guys,’’ Lester said. “Yeah, they’re my teammates and I want them to do good, but I can’t worry about what they did, whether it be a one-hit shutout and what happened last night.

“Last night, a couple of plays didn’t get made and it didn’t go our way. Today, I just had to come in and worry about me pitching my game and taking it one pitch at a time and that’s the mind-set I try to take every time.

“It’s just one pitch at a time, one inning at a time, and I just try to go from there.’’

Michael Vega can be reached at vega@globe.com.

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