Spring training baseball

Red Sox 5, Rays 1

Jon Lester was perfect. Boston's entire pitching staff nearly was on the day.

Lester retired 18 consecutive batters and combined with his bullpen to hold Tampa Bay without a baserunner until one out in the ninth, leading Boston to a victory Sunday at Fort Myers, Fla. Jason Bourgeois reached on an infield hit in the ninth against Marco Duarte, Boston's fourth pitcher.

Lester, Boston's projected opening-day starter, struck out six and threw 53 of 79 pitches for strikes. He has allowed two runs, six hits and four walks over five starts and 20 innings, striking out 16.

"Eighteen up, 18 down," Red Sox manager John Farrell said. "I thought the one thing that stood out to me was the number of 3-2 pitches that he executed. ... He pitched with a lot of confidence. Didn't overthrow. But yet, at the same time, we're seeing an increase in power from start to start. Very sharp, obviously."

Four of Lester's six strikeouts ended innings.

"Was able to get in a good rhythm early on, established our fastball, just kind of went from there," he said. "I had a good breaking ball today, which was good to see. We've been working on that. So all in all it was good day."

Jonny Gomes was 3 for 3 with four RBIs for the Red Sox.

Yankees 11, Pirates 9

Ivan Nova struggled in his latest bid to gain the upper hand in the competition for a spot in the Yankees' rotation, giving up four runs in New York's victory over Pittsburgh at Bradenton, Fla., highlighted by Melky Mesa's grand slam.

Kevin Youkillis added a two-run shot for New York, and Brennan Boesch had two hits and a sacrifice fly in his second game with the Yankees. Boesch signed a one-year, $1.5 million contract Friday after he was released by the Detroit Tigers. Nova gave up six hits and a walk in five innings. He struck out four.

Braves 2, Mets 1

Julio Teheran struck out seven in six innings, Chris Johnson homered and Freddie Freeman hit a tiebreaking single in the sixth inning as Atlanta beat New York at Port St. Lucie, Fla.

Bidding to earn the fifth spot in the Braves' rotation, Teheran allowed a leadoff homer to Jordany Valdespin, then gave up just two more hits.

Jonathon Niese gave up just the one run and two hits in five innings, struck out four and walked one.


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