Lester will be back on the mound against the Yankees on Saturday in the second of a three-game series between the American League East rivals. New York took the series opener on Friday, 6-4, to improve to 7-3 against Boston this year.
Since Lester's July 28 outing in the Bronx, he's struck out 23 in 20 2/3 innings over his last three starts. The southpaw owns a 3.48 ERA during that stretch and won his last outing on Sunday against Cleveland, striking out 12 in six innings of one-run ball.
Still, Lester is 6-10 with a 5.20 ERA and the Red Sox are 9-15 when he starts. But he's looking more and more like the staff's ace since allowing a season-high 11 runs against the Blue Jays on July 22. Lester has won four of his last six starts in the Bronx and averages 9.82 K's per nine innings against the Yankees, his highest rate vs. any club.
"There comes a point where you just need to forget about your stats and worry about trying to keep your team in the game," Lester said. "That's what I've kind of come to since my bad one against Toronto. Just keep them within striking distance, and everything else will take care of itself."
Yankees right-hander David Phelps also won't be worrying about his stats when he makes his fifth career start on Saturday. Phelps is filling in for the injured CC Sabathia, who is on the 15-day disabled list with a sore left elbow.
Phelps pitched well enough to win on Monday against the Rangers in his first start since July 4. He allowed two runs on six hits over five innings to earn his first victory as a New York starter.
Is Yankees manager Joe Girardi worried about the rookie getting his first start in the game's biggest rivalry?
"Of course, you've got to worry a little bit," Girardi said. "Texas is kind of an atmosphere, too. You think about they've been to the World Series the last two years. We were fighting them for the best record in the American League. I believe he's pitched against Boston. I don't imagine that he'll get too caught up in it, but you still have to worry. You have to be cognizant of it."
Phelps has faced the Red Sox twice this year, both times in a relief role. He allowed three runs on seven hits in six innings with five strikeouts.
Red Sox: Doubront still out of rotation
Left-hander Felix Doubront might not make his next start until the end of next week, Red Sox manager Bobby Valentine said. Doubront (10-6) has not started since Aug. 9.
If Doubront's next outing is pushed back until then, he could go on the disabled list retroactively to give the club another pitcher until he returns. For now, the fist-year starter is keeping in shape. He threw three simulated innings before Friday's game against the Yankees.
"He had a nice active rest period where he's continued to throw on flat ground but nothing off the mound, so we have him a little up and down session in the bullpen today," said Valentine. "There will be another one of those planned where he'll do it longer and then he'll be able to pitch in a game and throw his 100 pitches or so."
Dourbont has thrown a career-high 122 2/3 innings this year. Valentine also said the lefty is dealing with a knee issue.
"So, you know, he had a little knee situation that we wanted to make sure cleared up," Valentine said. "He'll be ready this next week to pitch. If we decide we don't need him until at the end of the week, we might even take that amount of time."
Yankees: Teixeira battling wrist inflammation
Mark Teixeira was held out of Friday's lineup, the result of inflammation in his left wrist. The first baseman could miss more time during this weekend's series against Boston.
Teixeira previously missed two games with wrist soreness on July 31 and Aug. 1, and he had a cortisone shot to reduce swelling. He had not sat out a game since he returned on Aug. 3.
"I hope it's just a day here, a day there," Teixeira said. "We've been playing really well as a team the last few months. Because of that, we have a little bit of a cushion that we can afford to take a day and be smart about things."
Nick Swisher started at first base on Friday and will likely see more time there if Teixeira remains sidelined.
For the second consecutive day, Sabathia threw from flat ground before Friday's game against the Red Sox. The left-hander will throw a bullpen session soon, though Girardi did not have a timetable for it.
Sabathia is eligible to be activated from the DL on Thursday. The Yankees open a three-game series in Cleveland on Friday and Girardi expects Sabathia to return at some point during that series.
"We have to see how the bullpens go and how he feels," Girardi said. "That way I have a little leeway for the second day or the third day [of the series against the Indians], whenever it is. Let's just see how his bullpens go before I give an exact date."
Red Sox second baseman Dustin Pedroia has a 12-game hit streak.
Yankees shortstop Derek Jeter is 19-for-55 (.345) in his career against Lester with one home run and six RBIs.