PHILADELPHIA (AP) — Jon Lester tossed two-hit ball over seven shutout innings, Jason Varitek homered twice and the Boston Red Sox avoided a three-game sweep with a 5-2 win over the Philadelphia Phillies on Thursday.
The Phillies got a scare when lefty Cole Hamels was forced to leave soon after being struck on the glove hand by Adrian Gonzalez’s line drive in the fourth. The Phillies said X-rays were negative and Hamels will make his next start.
The three-game series was hyped as a potential World Series preview. If it is, don’t look for much offense in October: Philadelphia outscored the Red Sox 9-6.
Lester (10-4) struck out Raul Ibanez with two runners aboard with his 120th pitch to end a game-tying threat in the seventh.
Jon Lester Postgame With WBZ NewsRadio 1030′s Jonny Miller
Dustin Pedroia and Varitek hit back-to-back homers in the eighth to make it 5-0.
Ryan Howard hit his 17th homer in the ninth, a two-run shot off Bobby Jenks. Jonathan Papelbon got two outs for his 15th save.
With Hamels out, the Red Sox wasted no time scoring against David Herndon (0-2) in the fifth. Josh Reddick hit his second triple of the season after right fielder Ben Francisco misplayed the ball and it scooted by him to the wall. Drew Sutton followed with an RBI single and Jacoby Ellsbury added a run-scoring single for a 2-0 lead.
In the sixth, Herndon allowed Varitek’s opposite-field homer into the first rows of the right-field seats. He added his fifth homer of the season in the eighth.
Jason Varitek Postgame With WBZ NewsRadio 1030′s Jonny Miller
Herndon allowed five hits and three runs in only two innings.
Lester made the lead stand. He snapped a personal two-start losing streak and became the first Red Sox lefty to record four straight double-digit win seasons since Bruce Hurst from 1983-88.
With the Red Sox ahead 3-0 in the seventh, Howard singled and Shane Victorino walked. Lester retired Ben Francisco, then fanned Ibanez swinging on a 90 mph fastball to end the inning.
Ibanez hit a tiebreaking solo homer in the seventh of Philadelphia’s 2-1 win on Wednesday.
Daniel Bard pitched a scoreless eighth for the Red Sox.
Hamels, who has a 9-4 record, was cruising until the fourth. He had already snagged a liner an inning earlier when Gonzalez hit a comebacker. The ball appeared to hit Hamels in the palm of his hand. His mitt fell off, but Hamels recovered to throw out Gonzalez at first.
Hamels grimaced as he looked at the sky and shook his hand several times. He threw a few warmup pitches and stayed in the game.
Not for long. Herndon got loose in the bottom half of the inning and came in to start the fifth.
The Red Sox shook up their lineup against Hamels in the finale. Gonzalez, who made his second career start in right field on Tuesday, was at first base. David Ortiz appeared as a pinch-hitter a day after he was in the lineup at first.
Also, Red Sox third baseman Kevin Youkilis was out of the lineup with a sore left foot. Youkilis fouled a ball off it in Wednesday night’s game. General manager Theo Epstein said Youkilis’ X-rays were negative.
(Copyright 2011 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)