Lester, Ciriaco spark Sox in first spring victory
Lefty ace throws two perfect innings to start game, third baseman chips in two RBIs
JUPITER, Fla. -- A pair of perfect innings for Red Sox ace Jon Lester highlighted Boston's first victory of the Grapefruit League season. The Red Sox defeated the Cardinals, 5-3, at Roger Dean Stadium on Sunday afternoon.
Lester threw 24 pitches, 17 of which were strikes, while retiring all six batters he faced. Relievers Koji Uehara and Andrew Miller followed with scoreless appearances.
"Their pitching staff came loaded," St. Louis manager Mike Matheny said of the Red Sox. "We need guys to put together good at-bats. There were some guys who were still a little off, but early on, that's par for the course."
Cardinals starter John Gast served up a pair of runs in the second inning, which the Red Sox began with three consecutive singles. Pedro Ciriaco drove home one run with his bloop single to center. After a walk to Mitch Maier, Gast induced a double play that allowed another runner to score.
Gast, who is likely to start for Triple-A Memphis this season, threw 28 of his 45 pitches for strikes. Tyler Lyons relieved Gast and tossed two scoreless innings. The left-handed Lyons retired six straight after allowing a leadoff single in the third.
Infielder Daniel Descalso put the Cardinals on the scoreboard with a solo homer in the fifth off new Red Sox reliever Joel Hanrahan. Descalso, who is competing for the Cardinals' second base starting job, played third for five innings on Sunday.
The Red Sox answered back with two runs off lefty reliever Sam Freeman in the next inning. Former Cardinals farmhand Mark Hamilton drew a bases-loaded walk, and Ciriaco followed with a sacrifice fly.
The Cardinals cut into that lead with an RBI single by Allen Craig and a sacrifice fly from Adron Chambers in the bottom of the sixth. Both runs scored off righty Andrew Bailey.
J.C. Linares extended the lead for the Red Sox with an RBI single in the eighth, and Rubby De La Rosa shut the door with two perfect innings to end the game.
Up next for Red Sox: The Red Sox will play a pair of 1:05 p.m. ET split-squad road games on Monday. Right-hander Alfredo Aceves will start in Port Charlotte, Fla., in the first of five meetings between the Red Sox and Rays this spring. Further north in Dunedin, Fla., righty knuckleballer Steven Wright will take the mound against the Blue Jays. Allen Webster and Chris Carpenter are scheduled to follow him in that game.
Jenifer Langosch is a reporter for MLB.com. Read her blog, By Gosh, It's Langosch, and follow her on Twitter @LangoschMLB. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.