Working hard helps Lester down Mariners

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Jon Lester tossed his second complete game of the season as the Red Sox won their season-high fourth straight home game.Jon Lester narrowly missed out on tossing his first shutout since 2008, but he did manage his second complete game of the year as the Boston Red Sox beat the Seattle Mariners 6-1.

The win was the fourth straight at home for the Red Sox after starting the season with a 4-11 record at Fenway Park. It’s their longest home winning streak since taking nine in a row last July.

With the win, Lester improves to 2-1 with a 1.67 ERA in his last four starts, a stark contrast with his 0-2 record and 6.00 ERA through his first four games.

He was able to get the Mariners out by featuring his hard stuff. He threw a fastball, cutter or sinker on 94 of his 119 pitches. The only time this season that he threw a similar number was against the Chicago White Sox on April 28, when he pitched seven scoreless innings and struck out a season-high seven batters.

The Mariners’ lack of plate discipline played into his hands as well. He didn’t walk a hitter and only threw six pitches when facing a three-ball count. That was despite the fact that less than half of his pitches – 58 of 119 – were actually in the strike zone. He tied a season-high inducing 14 swinging strikes.

He threw 12 curveballs in the game, right at his season average, but used it as his out pitch. Lester recorded four outs, including two strikeouts, without allowing a hit against his curve.

On the flip side, the Mariners lost for the ninth time in their last 10 road games. They had started the season by winning eight of their first 12 games away from Safeco Field.

Seattle starter Jason Vargas allowed home runs to Daniel Nava and Kelly Shoppach during his outing. He has allowed seven homers this season, all of them on the road.

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Quick Hits

Bryce Harper hit his first career home run. He’s the youngest player to homer in the majors since Adrian Beltre hit seven home runs in 1998.

• Speaking of the Washington Nationals, they scored eight runs in today’s win against the San Diego Padres, becoming the last team in the majors to reach that mark this season.

Adam Dunn homered off Drew Smyly, the first time he went deep against a southpaw since hitting two homers against Clayton Kershaw in August 2010. His last 30 homers had been against right-handed pitchers.

It was his 12th home run of the season, surpassing his total of 11 from last year.

Emilio Bonifacio stole his MLB-leading 18th base on Monday. He has yet to be caught stealing this season. No other player in the majors has more than seven steals without being caught.

• On the career hit front, Derek Jeter and Placido Polanco both reached milestones on Monday.

Jeter went 1-for-5 to move past Robin Yount into sole possession of 16th place on the all-time hit list. Polanco became the 17th active player to reach 2,000 career hits.