CHICAGO -- Takeaways from the Cell, where truer words have seldom been spoken than the admonition from Red Sox pitcher Jake Peavy to former White Sox teammate Chris Sale when Sale expressed regret that he wouldn't be facing Peavy Thursday night.
"I told Chris Sale, 'I know you wanted Old Man Peavy but you're going to get our left-hander Thursday night,'" Peavy had said back in New York. "'If you want to be the best left-hander in the league, you got to surpass this guy that we're throwing at you.'"
"Our left-hander," in this case, was Jon Lester, and set the stage for a superb pitchers' duel between the two lefties, each of whom took a no-hitter into the sixth inning and looked eminently capable of completing the task, even though neither did so.
The result: The Red Sox won the rubber game of this three-game set 3-1 before a crowd of 17,454 in U.S. Cellular Field.
The winning rally in the ninth: One-out singles by Mike Napoli and pinch hitter Mike Carp off White Sox reliever Ronald Belisario preceded a double grounded down the right-field line by Red Sox catcher David Ross that scored Napoli to make it 2-1. After an intentional walk to Daniel Nava, pinch hitter Jonathan Herrera pushed a bunt down the first-base line, scoring pinch runner Grady Sizemore.
The double no-nos: Sale broke first, giving up a 444-foot home run to Red Sox rookie Xander Bogaerts with two out in the sixth. Lester set down the first 16 White Sox batters in order, allowing only one ball out of the infield, until Tyler Flowers grounded a single off the glove of a diving Bogaerts in the shortstop hole with one out in the sixth. That was the first of three straight hits by the White Sox, as Leury Garcia, the tiny utility man who had pitched the 14th inning the night before, one-hopped a ball over the right-field wall for a ground-rule double, and Lester was a tick late to first base as Adam Eaton beat out an infield hit that tied the score.
Sale gave up one hit, a walk, and one hit batsman while striking out 10 in seven innings. He threw a career-high 127 pitches in seven innings, a hefty workload for this early in the season.
Lester pitched out of a jam in the seventh, when the leaden-legged Adam Dunn was thrown out at the plate on Alejandro De Aza's double into the right-field corner, Dustin Pedroia throwing a strike to David Ross after taking a throw from Daniel Nava.
Lester had runners on the corners after a couple of singles in the eighth as well, but struck out Dayan Viciedo to end the threat.
Lester threw 112 pitches. He struck out nine, did not walk a batter, and ended up allowing seven hits. He lowered his ERA to 2.17 in four starts, all of which have been quality starts. He has yet to allow more than two earned runs in a start, has not allowed more than seven hits or two walks, and his 9 K's Thursday were his most in four starts.
The defense: White Sox center fielder Adam Eaton took a home run away from David Ortiz with a leaping catch at the center-field wall in the first inning. White Sox first baseman Paul Konerko made an acrobatic grab of Dustin Pedroia's smash and turned it into a double play in the eighth. White Sox shortstop Alexei Ramirez made a diving grab of Jackie Bradley Jr.'s liner and turned it into a DP to end the Boston ninth. Ross made a nice grab of Konerko's pop fly at the Boston dugout railing in the fifth, and Pedroia was money on his relay.
National High-Five Day: A fitting occasion for Koji Uehara to make his return after a week's absence to pitch the ninth and record the save.
The trip: The Red Sox return home for four games with the Orioles and three with the Yankees with a 3-4 record on this trip, taking two of three from the White Sox after losing three of four in New York.