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When Jon Lester ran into trouble in the eighth, giving up back-to-back singles to lead off the inning, Red Sox manager Terry Francona sent the message to the mound: This was Lester's problem to solve on his own.
"That was a lot of responsibility," Francona said. "He deserves to have that confidence in him."
Lester pitched out of a bases-loaded jam - thanks to slick fielding from Dustin Pedroia - and Jeremy Hermida hit a bases-clearing double in the bottom half to lead Boston to a 5-1 victory over the Los Angeles Angels on Tuesday night.
"It's nice to be able to fight out of that and get the 'W,"' Lester said. "When you're able to get out of those jams, it just builds confidence. So when you get into games that really matter, you can draw back and say, 'I've been here before."'
The Angels have started a 10-game road trip with five straight losses.
One night after they gave up 17 runs in the series opener, Ervin Santana quieted the Red Sox bats, allowing just one run in seven innings but earning his third straight no-decision. After he left, Boston scored four runs off Kevin Jepsen (0-1) to turn a tie game into a 5-1 blowout.
"(Santana) had to match Lester pitch for pitch, and he did," Angels manager Mike Scioscia said. "We had some opportunities and Lester minimized the damage on their end. Obviously, getting out of the eighth was big for those guys."
Jepsen gave up four runs on two hits and three walks while getting just two outs in the eighth. Mike Napoli had three of the Angels' five hits.
Lester (2-2) allowed one run, walking two and striking out five before Jonathan Papelbon pitched a perfect ninth in a non-save situation. Marco Scutaro had three hits, including a pair of doubles, to help the Red Sox win their second in a row since being swept over the weekend by the lowly Baltimore Orioles.
"Obviously, we haven't been playing that well," Lester said. "The last two nights, it seems like things are going in the right direction."
Los Angeles loaded the bases with one out in the eighth, but Lester got out of it when Bobby Abreu hit a grounder to second baseman Pedroia and he chased down the runner to tag him before throwing to first to end the inning.
"We needed that to happen," Francona said. "As the game gets closer, you're going to get the best out of Pedey. We've come to expect it."
In the bottom half, Boston loaded the bases with nobody out before David Ortiz hit into a second-to-home-to-first double play. After Jepsen walked his third batter of the inning, Hermida one-hopped a double off the Green Monster to make it 4-1.
"Those situations are fun," Hermida said. "I live for moments like that. It's what you play the game for."
Pinch-hitter Mike Lowell doubled off Scott Shields to score Hermida.
Ortiz finished hitless in four at-bats with two strikeouts and two double plays.
"David's fine," Pedroia said. "He's one of our teammates. We believe in him. He's going to come out of it. He's had 60 at-bats.
"A couple of years ago I had 60 at-bats and it was me hitting .170 and everybody was ready to kill me, too. Then what happened?" said Pedroia, who was batting .172 on May 1, 2007, but went on to win the AL Rookie of the Year. "Laser show."
Lester gave up seven runs in an April 18 loss to Tampa Bay, but he didn't allow a run in the two starts since then. He retired the first seven batters easily, and then got an inning-ending play after Napoli singled in the third.
But the shutout string ended when Erick Aybar walked to lead off the fourth inning, then took third on Torii Hunter's double. Kendry Morales hit a bouncer into the hole on the left side of the infield, but Scutaro went into the outfield to get it and threw to first in time to get the batter.
Hideki Matsui grounded out to the pitcher to end the inning.
This program aired on May 5, 2010. The audio for this program is not available.
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