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BOS@CLE: Lester earns his seventh win of the season

CLEVELAND -- Call it the matinee mashing.

The Red Sox belted the Indians from seemingly the time the national anthem ended and never looked back, putting together a 14-2 thumping in the rubber match of a three-game series against the team that owns the best record in baseball.

Jon Lester led by a touchdown before he even threw a pitch, as Boston erupted for a seven-spot in the top of the first against Mitch Talbot.

"It's not a very good feeling when before you get to the plate you're trailing 7-0 against Jon Lester," said Indians manager Manny Acta. "I don't think even the '27 Yankees would have a good feeling trailing 7-0 against this guy."

From the outset, good things started happening for the Sox. Jacoby Ellsbury led off with a single and stole second. Dustin Pedroia, fresh off getting his second game off of the season on Tuesday night, belted a two-run blast to left.

For Pedroia, it was the end of a 136 at-bat homerless streak that dated back to April 15.

"I'm not a home run hitter," said Pedroia. "I'll hit home runs, but by accident. If I take good a swing and drive it, it will go out. I'm not trying to hit home runs. Adrian and Youk and those guys will do that."

If there was a player who needed a big game more than Pedroia, it was Carl Crawford. Boston's left fielder had his finest game of the season, going 4-for-4 with a homer, two doubles, three runs and two RBIs. He exited in the bottom of the sixth after raising his average from .212 to .229.

sox it to 'em
Date Opp. H 2B HR Result
05/25/2011 CLE 20 6 4 W 14-2
05/03/2010 LAA 20 7 4 W 17-8
08/05/1997 TEX 24 6 4 W 17-1
06/08/1950 STL 28 9 7 W 29-4

Crawford hadn't even had a three-hit game this season before Wednesday's outburst.

"He swung the bat great," Pedroia said. "We have a lot of games to go. There will be a time in the year where he's definitely going to carry us. We're counting on him."

The left fielder was just a triple short of the cycle.

"I thought about it probably at my last at-bats, but not early on in the game," Crawford said. "It just feels good to win the game, to help contribute. I don't really know what to say about myself personally. I don't really like to talk about myself too much when we won a game like that. It just felt nice to help do something in a game where everybody contributes like that."

The Red Sox are rolling, with 10 wins in their last 12 games. They remain a half-game behind the Yankees in the American League East.

"We're playing good ball -- that's the good thing," Pedroia said. "They've got the best record in baseball. It's good to win the series and now we go to Detroit and face some tough pitching, but we've got to keep playing better."

Meanwhile, Lester didn't lose focus, even with the huge lead. He dominated the Indians, firing six shutout innings, allowing three hits and a walk while striking out seven.

"Yeah, it's tough to sometimes pitch with those leads," said Lester. "Just have to try to focus on taking one inning, one pitch at a time. Sometimes it's hard. For the most part, I was able to do that today."

The lefty, who had given up four earned runs or more in his previous three starts, ran his record to a Major League-best 7-1 and lowered his ERA to 3.36.

"Obviously it's good," Lester said of his early cushion. "It takes a lot of pressure off of not only me, but the defense. You don't have to be perfect. You can attack guys and establish your fastball, and I was able to do that today."

But the offense was the story in this one. Ellsbury (3-for-4), Pedroia (2-for-6), Adrian Gonzalez (2-for-6), David Ortiz (2-for-6, homer), Jarrod Saltalamacchia (2-for-4, homer), Mike Cameron (2-for-4) and Drew Sutton (3-for-5) all joined Crawford with multihit games. Sutton was a late addition to the lineup after Kevin Youkilis was scratched with soreness in his left hand. Jed Lowrie was the only member of Boston's starting nine not to get a hit.

"I think everybody felt good at the plate," said Sutton. "I think it's one of those things, it's a snowball effect. Once a couple of guys started getting hits and balls started falling, it just kind of takes over, and 20 hits later and 14 runs, that's a good day."

Wednesday marked the fourth time in Red Sox history that the offense collected 20 or more hits, six or more doubles and four or more home runs in a game.

"The last two games we beat them, which is good," said Red Sox manager Terry Francona. "It's fun to play teams like this. They were feeling really good about themselves, as they should. And we came out and played pretty good baseball. First night, we were ahead and they beat us, but we came back and played two pretty good games."

Ellsbury and Pedroia had two hits each in the first inning, when Boston sent 12 batters to the plate.

After taking two out of three from the Indians, the Red Sox will open a four-game series in Detroit on Thursday afternoon.

Judging by Wednesday's result, the early wakeup call shouldn't bother anyone.

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