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BOS@CWS: Lester is stellar in first win of season

Getting away from Fenway Park has proven to be an elixir for the Red Sox. After ending their recent six-game homestand with five straight losses, they'll look to capture the rubber match against the Royals on Wednesday, and their seventh road win in the last nine games. Now 8-7 on the road compared to 4-10 at Fenway Park, Boston simply wants to play quality baseball regardless of location after a 12-17 record to open the season -- its worst start since 1996.

"We're not playing that well at home, but we have to come out here and perform still," said David Ortiz. "It's not that we want to play like that at home. It's just the way it is right now."

The job of keeping the road momentum going falls to Jon Lester, who has pitched away from Fenway in four of his six starts this season. Lester comes off a no-decision on Friday in which he allowed three earned runs on five hits over six innings. On the road this season, Lester is 1-1 with a 2.79 ERA and a .200 opponents' average over 29 frames.

The left-hander's last road start was his best outing of the year. Lester tossed seven shutout innings with five hits allowed, seven strikeouts and just one walk in a 1-0 victory over the White Sox on April 28.

Lester has also enjoyed career-long dominance of the Royals. He is 5-1 with a 1.30 ERA with 40 strikeouts and 21 walks in seven starts against Kansas City, including the no-hitter he threw on May 19, 2008.

It will be a battle of southpaws as Bruce Chen shares the mound with Lester. Chen, who is 0-4 with a 4.98 ERA, is not only searching for his first victory of the season, but a positive turn after back-to-back subpar outings.

Chen has logged just 9 1/3 innings in his previous two starts with 12 earned runs and 15 hits allowed. He was roughed up for six earned runs in 6 2/3 innings against the Yankees on May 4. The task gets no easier for Chen, who owns a 5.98 ERA in 16 career games against Boston.

The challenge extends to the Royals lineup, which has not fared particularly well against left-handed starters this season. Kansas City bats are hitting just .225 off southpaws this season, while left-handed starters are 4-0 in five opportunities.

Red Sox: Bullpen appeared to bounce back
• Boston's bullpen was beat up during the opening weeks of the season, but its relief corps has turned it around in its past 15 games, despite the three-run game-winning home run Matt Albers surrendered in the eighth inning of Tuesday's game. In its last 58 1/3 innings, Red Sox relievers have allowed 10 earned runs, good for a 1.56 ERA with 55 strikeouts against 16 walks. Three of the 10 earned runs allowed came off outfielder Darnell McDonald, who took the mound during a 17-inning loss to the Orioles on Sunday.

• Will Middlebrooks exited Tuesday's game with tightness in his left hamstring after doubling in his first at-bat. Middlebrooks missed Saturday's game due to leg cramps. The hot-hitting prospect has begun his big league career by hitting .409 with three home runs and nine RBIs in five games.

Royals: Gordon riding a hot streak
• Alex Gordon's season got off to a slow start, hitting .167 as of April 24. However, the left-handed-hitting outfielder has been on a tear as of late, hitting .404 (19-for-47) with two home runs and 11 RBIs, including one RBI in four of his last five games.

• The Royals recalled Vin Mazzaro from Triple-A Omaha on Tuesday. Left-handed reliever Tommy Hottovy was sent down to make room for Mazzaro. The right-hander figures to go into the rotation, but for now, he will remain in Kansas City's bullpen.

"I've been in the bullpen a few times, so I've done it and know what it takes, so it shouldn't be that bad of a transition for me," Mazzaro said.

Mazzaro was 1-0 with a 4.37 ERA, 27 strikeouts and 10 walks in six starts in Triple-A this season.

Worth noting
• The Red Sox scored 10 runs in a game eight times through their first 28 games -- the most through 28 games since 1918.

• The Red Sox and Royals lead the Majors in doubles with 82 and 67 two-baggers, respectively. However, Kansas City's streak of doubling in 28 consecutive games ended on Tuesday.

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