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Game Story, 7.23.07: Early runs are every pitcher's friend

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Source: Yahoo!

Source: Yahoo!

Boston Red Sox's Jon Lester delivers a pitch to Cleveland Indians' Josh Barfield in the third inning of a baseball game Monday, July 23, 2007, in Cleveland. Lester returned to the mound Monday for his first start since being diagnosed with cancer last August.
Red Sox win, 6-2

In his first major league start since recovering from cancer, Jon Lester held the Cleveland Indians to two runs over six solid innings of work while striking out six.

Lester was good tonight. It wasn't his best outing of his career, but I think he did a pretty good job considering the circumstances. His heart must have been pumping right out of his chest.

The offense got started early. Manny Ramirez doubled in the first that scored Coco Crisp and Dustin Pedroia. JD Drew singled right after that scored Kevin Youkilis, who was hitting in the 3-spot in the absence of David Ortiz. Mike Lowell grounded into a double play after, but that was still good enough to score Manny from third.

That'd be all the Sox would need. Crisp would score two more times in the night.

The bullpen was fantastic in relief of Lester tonight. Mike Timlin took the ball in the 7th and scattered a hit and a strikeout over 1.1 innings. After Javier Lopez struck out Travis Hafner in the 8th, Manny Delcarmen pitched the following 1.1 to earn his first save of his career.

The Indians aren't the best team, but I'm glad the Sox were able to take advantage of a really bad Jake Westbrook tonight. If the Sox couldn't beat him, I don't know who they could beat. The bullpen, once again, was very impressive. Timlin has earned his spot last in the game alongside Delcarmen, Hideki Okajima and Jonathan Papelbon.

Lester and Crisp.

Nobody was Mendoza bad tonight.