The game could not have started better for the Sox' lefty ace, who required just ten pitches to retire the Jays in the first with a pair of strikeouts. Lester was dominant for all four of his innings, allowing just one walk while striking out five men, and even had a no-hitter going. But after he struck out Adam Lind to end the fourth, Lester and the Red Sox' trainer walked right down the tunnel and into the clubhouse as Matt Albers began to warm.
It would later be revealed that Lester had begun experiencing pain in his back in the fourth, and was diagnosed by team doctor Thomas Gill with a strained left lat. Matt Albers missed a couple of weeks earlier in the season with a strained right lat, returning as soon as the disabled list rules allowed.
Meanwhile, the Sox had a game to win, and the offense went about getting the necessary runs. David Ortiz led off the third inning with a double into the right field corner, and then scored when Jason Varitek planted his own two-bagger off the Monster. Blue Jays starter Brett Cecil may have escaped with just the one run, but J.D. Drew hit a sharp ground ball that kicked off of Mike McCoy at second to score Varitek.
With Kevin Youkilis out for the day, Dustin Pedroia was slotted into the cleanup spot for just the eighth time of his career. The first seven times (five of them starts) had proven rather successful, resulting in three homers and an OPS over 1.500. Pedroia quickly made it four in the third inning, knocking a 1-2 fastball over the Monster for a solo shot and putting the Sox up 3-0.
The Sox' bullpen proved up to the task of holding the lead for the injured Lester, as Matt Albers, Franklin Morales, and Daniel Bard combined for four scoreless innings. But the Sox would end up needing every one of their runs with Jonathan Papelbon struggling through a difficult ninth. Corey Patterson led the inning off with a single up the middle after taking an 0-2 pitch that looked like a strike for a ball, and then Jose Bautista did what he does best: launched a 2-run homer into the Monster seats to bring the Jays within a run.
That run would get into scoring position with two outs with Papelbon allowing a single and a walk to Edwin Encarnacion and J.P. Arencibia, so when John McDonald dropped a single into left field, it seemed as though the game were over. But Darnell McDonald managed to get to the ball quickly, and fired a dart to Jason Varitek, who had a perfect block at home plate. Varitek laid the tag on Edwin Encarnacion as his right leg swept around--and possibly touched--home plate, but the umpire called him out, and the Sox mobbed Darnell McDonald as Dirty Water began to play.