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TB@BOS: Lester fans five, holds Rays to one run

Jon Lester hadn't pitched particularly well during the 2007 season. He returned from chemotherapy treatment for anaplastic large cell lymphoma and pitched 63 innings with a 4.57 ERA during the regular season.

When the postseason started, the southpaw made two relief appearances, giving up two earned runs in 3 2/3 innings. Needing a starter for Game 4 of the World Series, however, then-manager Terry Francona turned to Lester.

After 5 2/3 innings of shutout ball by Lester, the Red Sox finished the sweep of the Rockies and captured their second World Series championship in four years.

That relationship between Lester and Francona was strong, and as Lester takes the mound in Thursday's series finale, that bond won't be forgotten.

"It's going to be a little weird," Lester said. "I look forward to it, catching up a little bit. I haven't seen him in a while, but yeah, it's definitely going to be a little awkward seeing him in that Indians uniform rather than the Red Sox. Now he's on the other side, so we have to do the same thing he taught us to do -- go out there and not worry about that stuff and try to compete and win."

Before handing the ball to Lester in the World Series, Francona talked about why he had faith in the then-23-year-old lefty.

"Jon has a way, as a lot of young pitchers do, of kind of maybe working himself into trouble," Francona said in 2007. "What's sort of special about him is, he has a way of working himself out of trouble."

Lester worked himself into plenty of trouble in 2012, when he set career highs in ERA (4.82), losses (14) and home runs allowed (25). There hasn't been much trouble evident in 2013.

Through three starts, Lester has gone 19 innings, allowed three walks and three runs on 15 hits (no homers), while striking out 18. His fellow starting pitchers have excelled, too, as they've allowed no more than three runs in any of Boston's first 14 games, a club record to start a season and the longest such streak in the American League since the 1990 Brewers, whose starters also went 14 games before allowing more than three runs.

Opposite Lester will be Zach McAllister, the former Yankee who was traded to Cleveland in 2010 as the player to be named for Austin Kearns.

After struggling at Triple-A in 2011, McAllister found success both in the Minors and Majors in 2012, when he hurled 125 1/3 innings for the Indians and posted a 4.24 ERA.

McAllister is 1-1 with a 2.19 ERA and nine strikeouts with no walks in 12 1/3 innings over two starts this season.

Red Sox: Where was Carp?
First baseman/outfielder Mike Carp, the forgotten man on the Red Sox's roster this season, made his first start on Wednesday, playing first base while pushing Mike Napoli to the designated-hitter spot.

Carp beat out Lyle Overbay, among others, for one of the last spots on Boston's roster and was 0-for-3, all in pinch-hitting appearances, before Wednesday.

With his 3-for-3 performance, which included two doubles and an RBI triple, Carp, who has 18 home runs in 551 career at-bats in the Majors, could force himself into the lineup again soon.

"We need to keep everyone involved as best we can," said manager John Farrell. "This is an opportunity to do that with the string of right-handers were going to be facing in this series and it looks to be the three right-handers we'll get with Kansas City as well, so I think we've had an opportunity to rotate everyone through in this series here."

While Napoli has been at first, Daniel Nava and Jonny Gomes have split the majority of at-bats at DH. David Ortiz could return to reclaim his starting spot as soon as Friday.

Indians: Opportunity for Brantley
With Michael Bourn on the 15-day disabled list, Michael Brantley went 0-for-3 with a walk in the leadoff spot.

Brantley has spent more time out of the top-spot in the order than at any other position in his career. Entering Wednesday, he had hit .267 with a .314 on-base percentage at leadoff. Overall, Brantley has a .330 on-base percentage.

"He's just a good hitter," said Francona. "He doesn't have to change his approach. We need to change some things sometimes, because we have some injuries, but he just has to be the hitter that he is."

Drew Stubbs, who has a .323 on-base percentage in 782 at-bats out of the leadoff spot (and a .311 on-base percentage overall), could also see time there in Bourn's absence.

Worth noting
• John Lackey is scheduled to throw off a mound Thursday for the first time since injuring his right biceps April 6. Farrell said it won't be long before Lackey will see game activity, either with a Minor League rehab assignment or in a simulated environment.

• Indians designated hitter Jason Giambi hit his first home run on Wednesday, launching a pitch off Alfredo Aceves into the right-center-field bleachers. The 42-year-old Giambi, who has hit home runs for four different Major League teams, had just one homer in 89 at-bats with the Rockies last season. Giambi has started twice this season.

• With Jason Kipnis resting a sore left elbow, Cord Phelps made his first start of the season at second base Wednesday and went 0-for-4 at the plate.

• Andrew Bailey recorded his first save for the Red Sox Wednesday. He's filling in for injured closer Joel Hanrahan, who is on the 15-day disabled list with a sore right hamstring. Hanrahan's injury isn't thought to be serious and he's expected to return when eligible.

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