Red Sox 5, Orioles 0: Jon Lester is back, Red Sox lead AL East

Greg Fiume

It was a very good day for the Red Sox, who finally won a series against the Orioles, regained the division lead, and seem to have Jon Lester back at last.

The Red Sox have actually won a series against the Baltimore Orioles, and better yet, it's put them back on top of the American League East.

The best news of all, though? It looks like Jon Lester is back.

Much like he did in his last outing, Lester came out of the gates hot. While Nick Markakis led off the bottom of the first with a leadoff single, Lester struck out both Chris Davis and Adam Jones to keep him from advancing past second. While some long at bats had already pushed Lester up over 20 pitches, much more efficient displays in the second and third left him under 40 pitches with nine straight batters retired and four strikeouts to his name.

The offense, meanwhile, had given him some breathing room to work with. And with boos raining down on him after his phone-bashing performance in Saturday's game, it was David Ortiz who played the largest role. In the first it was his single that moved Shane Victorino to third base before Napoli brought him home with a hit to deep right. If that didn't quiet the crowd, his follow-up act--a two-out, two-run homer to left in the third--most certainly did. He would finish the night with four hits in four at bats.

The middle innings would bring some stress for Lester, with a lineout to Stephen Drew ending a threatening fifth, and an errant throw from Dustin Pedroia and bloop hit from Adam Jones putting him in trouble early in the sixth. Still, Lester didn't let it phase him, striking out Matt Wieters and getting a ground ball to completely defuse the situation before enjoying an easy seventh to finish his night.

With Matt Thornton set to come into the game in the eighth, Red Sox fans were not feeling entirely safe with a three-run lead, but the Red Sox loaded the bases against T.J. McFarland, setting up Jarrod Saltalamacchia to bring two in with a broken bat single, pushing the lead to 5-0. The insurance would prove unnecessary, however, as Thornton and Pedro Beato pitched two quick innings to send the Red Sox back to Fenway with their first series win against the Orioles in over a year.

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