LOS ANGELES (AP) — Jon Lester had never faced the Los Angeles Dodgers before, and he handled their lineup with ease.
The left-hander pitched three-hit ball into the eighth inning, Jonny Gomes’ three-run homer capped a four-run first, and the Boston Red Sox won 4-2 on Saturday, snapping the Dodgers’ four-game winning streak.
“For the most part, I commanded the ball pretty well and was able to move the fastball around and get some weak contact from a good-hitting lineup,” Lester said. “I know what I’m capable of. It’s just a matter of going out there and doing it. Since the (All-Star) break, I’ve felt good physically, and I feel like I’m in a good place throwing the ball right now.”
The Red Sox began the day percentage points behind Tampa Bay for first in the AL East. They won at Dodger Stadium for the first time in five games dating to their first visit in 2002, when they were swept in three games.
Lester (12-7) gave up one run in 7 1-3 innings, struck out six and walked four.
“He was absolutely phenomenal,” Boston catcher David Ross said. “This was the best fastball location he’s had for me all year. This is the first time I’ve caught him in a while, but he threw excellent.”
Koji Uehara got the final four outs to earn his career high-tying 13th save in 16 chances. He hasn’t allowed a run in his last 18 appearances, going 1-0 with eight saves since July 9.
The Red Sox got to rookie Hyun-Jin Ryu (12-5) right away under a searing sun in 82-degree heat. With one out in the first, Ryu hit Shane Victorino with a pitch before Dustin Pedroia reached on an infield single to second. Victorino scored on Mike Napoli’s RBI single.
Gomes followed with his 11th homer on Ryu’s next pitch, scoring Pedroia and Napoli to make it 4-0. Ryu struck out Stephen Drew and Will Middlebrooks to end the inning.
“I was hitting fifth and he threw four first-pitch fastballs before I got up,” Gomes said. “I knew he had good off-speed stuff, good secondary stuff, and the majority of pitchers have good fastballs, so I was hunting the fastball.”
Ryu caught a cold returning from the road trip to Miami, but he said it didn’t affect his pitching. He lost in consecutive starts for the first time in his career.
“The lesson is don’t give up too many runs,” he said through a translator.
The Dodgers trailed 4-2 on Adrian Gonzalez’s RBI double off Craig Breslow with two outs in the eighth. After Breslow walked Hanley Ramirez to put the tying runs at first and second, Uehara ended the inning by striking out A.J. Ellis.
Lester retired eight of the first 10 batters he faced before the Dodgers notched their first hit, a single by Mark Ellis in the fourth.
“Our starting pitching has been absolutely grinding and keeping us in the game. Jon grabbed that lead and ran with it,” Gomes said. “That’s how he was in the beginning of the season. I don’t think he’s re-inventing himself right now. I think he’s just getting back on track.”
The Red Sox backed Lester with two double plays, including Drew’s one-man double play that ended the seventh. He caught a soft line drive off the bat of Juan Uribe and then sprinted to second to double off Ramirez.
“We were behind in most of the counts and he made big pitches when he had to,” Dodgers catcher A.J. Ellis said. “More times than not with our offense we’re going to be able to get back in the game all the way, but he didn’t allow it.”
Ryu allowed four runs and five hits in five innings, tying his shortest outing of the season. The left-hander struck out seven and walked none in losing his second straight start after winning six in a row.
Hours after Ricky Nolasco limited the Red Sox to two hits in a 2-0 on Friday, Ryu fell to 6-2 at home.
“I’m glad we got to him early,” Ross said. “Every pitcher wants to establish their heater. So if you’ve got a good aggressive hitter like Jonny who can hit the ball out of the ballpark and he jumps on that first pitch, it’s huge.”
Dodgers’ starters hadn’t allowed a run in their previous 26 innings dating to Wednesday, their second-longest scoreless run of the season.
NOTES: The Red Sox improved to 36-32 on the road. … Boston SS Xander Bogaerts singled in the ninth for his first major league hit. … Dodgers closer Brian Wilson worked out of a bases-loaded jam in his second appearance since coming back from Tommy John surgery. He struck out Middlebrooks to end the eighth. … Puig was 2 for 4 batting in the leadoff position.