ARLINGTON, Texas -- The Boston Red Sox built an early six-run lead for Jon Lester and the veteran left-hander made it stand up for an 8-3 victory over the Texas Rangers on Saturday night before the second Globe Life Park sellout crowd of the season.
Six of Lester’s eight strikeouts came on called third strikes, and three ended innings with a Ranger in scoring position.
The loss stopped a two-game Texas winning streak and evened the series with the Red Sox at one win apiece. A few observations:
Off target: The strike zone at times was an elusive target for Rangers left-hander Martin Perez. He issued four walks and hit a batter in a start that was over after 3 2/3 innings. In all, Perez faced 23 Red Sox hitters; 14 reached base, and six scored. Perez’s pitches consistently dropped below the strike zone, even though the raw numbers -- 52 strikes in 86 pitches -- might not seem alarming. In Perez’s defense, a good number of the nine hits he allowed were soft, including a two-run, looping fourth-inning single by Shane Victorino with the Texas infield playing on the infield grass.
Making tracks: The long legs of Alex Rios seemed to need only a couple of strides to complete the final 90 feet of his fourth-inning RBI triple. Rios slid into third well ahead of the relay throw.
Bullpen strength: Down 6-0 when summoned in the fourth, the Rangers bullpen held the line with hitless work from Shawn Tolleson and Aaron Poreda. Third reliever Justin Germano, just up from Round Rock, was touched for two runs in his two-inning debut.
Hot bat: Elvis Andrus extended his hitting streak to seven games with an RBI double in the left-center gap in the fifth. It was the second double in two nights for the Texas shortstop, and he added a single in the eighth. Andrus' batting average has climbed more than 30 points in his streak.
Caught stealing: Texas catcher Robinson Chirinos spoiled two Red Sox stolen base attempts with strong throws. He shot down David Ross in the second and Dustin Pedroia in the sixth. Chirinos has thrown out seven of 17 base stealers.
Good things must end: The Rangers pitchers’ scoreless streak ended at 23 innings on Victorino’s single to center field with the bases loaded and two out in the second inning. The shutout streak began in the sixth inning of Wednesday’s 9-2 loss to Colorado.
Laser throw: The word is out about the strong throwing arm of Rangers center fielder Leonys Martin. Fewer baserunners are challenging him. Jackie Bradley Jr. saw the danger of running on Martin firsthand when he was thrown out at the plate trying to score on a two-out single by Victorino in the second inning.
Challenge denied: The Rangers unsuccessfully challenged an out call at first base on Adrian Beltre in the eighth inning that completed a double play.
Heave-ho: Rangers pitching coach Mike Maddux was tossed in the eighth inning by first-base umpire Vic Carapazza.
Up next: About 6,000 reserved-seat tickets remain for Sunday’s 2:05 p.m. series finale matching left-hander Robbie Ross (1-3, 4.74 ERA) and right-hander John Lackey (4-2, 3.72 ERA) on ESPN 103.3 FM and Fox Sports Southwest.