USA TODAY Sports
Jon Lester and the Red Sox flirted with perfection, but came two runs short in a 5-1 win over the Rays.
If that "perfect game" mention didn't tip you off, Jon Lester was good. Very, very good. Finding his spots with David Ross behind the plate, Lester struck out two in a 1-2-3 opening frame and didn't look back. The southpaw would go a full six innings as he continues to ramp up for a presumed Opening Day start, striking out six and allowing the Rays nothing. The closest they would come to a baserunner against Lester came on a couple iffy throws from shortstop Jose Iglesias (on an otherwise impressive play) and Lester himself, but each time Mike Napoli was equal to the task at first.
The Red Sox, on the other hand, didn't take too long to get going against Alex Cobb. While the young Tampa Bay starter managed a 1-2-3 first inning, Will Middlebrooks took him off the wall in the second inning, then scored on a single from Jonny Gomes to make it 1-0. Gomes and Middlebrooks would combine twice more to produce runs, with Middlebrooks reaching on an error and Gomes doubling him home in the fourth, and Middlebrooks picking up his second double and scoring on Gomes' second single in the sixth. With Mike Carp already on third, that sixth-inning attack was worth a pair.
Joel Hanrahan and Anthony Carter combined to keep the perfect game alive heading into the ninth while the Red Sox put a fifth run on the board against Juan Sandoval. Ultimately, it would be an infield single from Bourgeoius in the Rays' 26th at bat which kept the Red Sox shy of perfection. A Cole Figueroa double brought the run home, but Marco Duarte got Chris Gimenez swinging to end the game.