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Lester Dazzles in Final Start Before All-Star Break

One run in the first was all Jon Lester would give up to the White Sox on Thursday, as the lefthander struck out 12 hitters and issued no walks. Charles Krupa/AP

A blown save by Koji Uehara in the top of the ninth may have denied Jon Lester his 10th win of the season, but there weren’t many negatives that could be pulled from the southpaw’s performance in his 19th start of 2014.

Lester was everything the Red Sox could have hoped for in the final game of their homestand, throwing seven innings and allowing one run on seven hits with no walks and 12 strikeouts.

The White Sox scored their only run off Lester in the top of the first when Adam Eaton started the game with a single, then was driven home on a one-out double by Jose Abreu. Lester would strike out Dayan Viciedo looking and get Alexei Ramirez to pop out to shortstop to strand Abreu in scoring position.

Lester started the second by striking out Paul Konerko before Moises Sierra singled to center, then stole second base. Lester K’ed Tyler Flowers and got Leury Garcia to ground out to third to set the White Sox down and leave another runner at second.

He recorded his first 1-2-3 inning of the game in the third after strikeouts to Beckham and Abreu followed an Eaton fly out. A one-out double by Ramirez was all the White Sox would get in the fourth, as Lester picked up another two K’s and retired Konerko on a grounder to short.

The White Sox recorded another hit in the fifth on a two-out double by Eaton, but once again Lester was able to strand him at second by striking out Beckham.

Chicago saw their biggest chance come in the top of the sixth, as Abreu led off the inning with a single and moved up to second on a one-out single by Ramirez. Both runners would steal before Konerko struck out, but they’d advance no further as Mike Napoli hauled in a foul pop up by Sierra to erase the threat.

Looking as sharp as ever, Lester mowed down the White Sox in the top of the seventh after his offense gave him a 3-1 lead, as a strikeout to Garcia was surrounded by a Flowers fly out and a Eaton groundout for a 1-2-3 seventh inning for Lester.

Sitting at 105 pitches and holding a 3-1 lead, John Farrell decided seven innings was enough for his starter, as Junichi Tazawa came out for the top of the eighth.

Lester’s last start before taking part in the 2014 All-Star festivities was nothing short of superb. After the one mistake to Abreu in the first, the White Sox weren’t able to put together much else until the sixth, but Lester bore down and got out of that jam with no issues.

Thursday’s game marked the second straight start, and fourth time this year, that Lester walked no batters, and was the third time this season he struck out 12 or more hitters. It was the first time in 2014, however, that he accomplished both feats in the same game.

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