SAN FRANCISCO -- The Red Sox’s crazy travel itinerary isn’t likely to catch on around the major leagues, but you can’t argue with the results it produced Monday.
Following a cross-country flight from Boston that didn’t land in San Francisco until 1 p.m. or so, the weary Red Sox went out and blanked the Giants 7-0 to open a three-game series at AT&T Park.
Adrenaline can take you a long way when your tank’s running on empty, as the Sox showed. But it also helps to get a dominant pitching effort. Lefty Jon Lester, who flew to California ahead of the team, continued his recent run of success, firing 8 1/3 innings of six-hit ball and allowing just three runners as far as second base.
True, the Giants aren’t offering much resistance these days. The defending World Series champs entered the night having scored just 96 runs since the All-Star break, tied for second-worst in the National League.
They didn’t treat a sellout crowd of 41,585 to much in the way of solid contact Monday. But credit that to Lester (11-7), who kept them off balance all night.
With the victory, the Red Sox began their six-game trip on a strong note. They play three in San Francisco followed by three at Dodger Stadium, home to the hottest team in baseball. Needless to say, it’s an important stretch for the Red Sox, who arrived in the Bay Area having lost seven of their past 10.
They remained one game ahead of second-place Tampa Bay, which beat Baltimore 4-3 on Monday.
Team officials, after consulting with a Boston-area sleep specialist, decided to fly west Monday morning rather than head out immediately after Sunday night’s game against the Yankees and fly all night, as most teams would do.
Some players looked bleary-eyed in the clubhouse before the game, but the Sox didn’t look like a sluggish bunch early in the game.
They knocked Tim Lincecum (6-13) around for nine hits over five-plus innings, including a three-run third inning that gave Lester an early lead.
Boston loaded the bases with no outs on singles from Jarrod Saltalamacchia and Stephen Drew, sandwiched around a walk from Daniel Nava. Will Middlebrooks brought home the first run with a sacrifice fly. With Lester batting, Lincecum lost his balance in his delivery and was called for a balk, scoring Nava.
The Sox added on throughout the game, including an RBI double from Drew that banged off the center-field wall in the fifth. Victorino and Nava each had three hits.
Lester was pulled two outs away from the complete game, after back-to-back singles by Buster Posey and Hunter Pence in the ninth. Lester received a warm ovation from the large contingent of Red Sox fans.