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OAK@BOS: Lester fans career-high 15 in strong outing

ARLINGTON -- Red Sox pitcher Jon Lester put an end to a two-game losing streak with a terrific performance against the Athletics in his last start.

Rangers left-hander Martin Perez would like to do something similar when he pitches against the Red Sox on Saturday. Perez, after winning his first four decisions, is 0-2 with a 12.10 ERA in his last two starts against the Athletics and Rockies.

"He just needs to do what he has been doing, keep the ball down in the strike zone, change speeds and get ahead," pitching coach Mike Maddux said. "The game in Colorado wasn't bad, he gave up two home runs that would have been foul balls anywhere else but didn't hook like they normally do at other parks. He's really had just one bad outing."

Lester lost two straight starts to the Blue Jays and the Yankees, allowing 12 runs -- seven earned -- in 11 2/3 innings. But he came back and beat the Athletics on Saturday with eight scoreless innings, allowing one hit and two walks while striking out a career-high 15.

"I wouldn't say I had two down starts, I feel like I threw the ball just the same," Lester said. "The biggest thing for me the last start is location. What we like to call pitchers' pitches. That's one of those starts that's hard to duplicate 100 percent, but you try to take a lot of the positives from it as far as location and the way we attacked hitters and just try to repeat that."

Lester went into the weekend with a 2.59 ERA that was the seventh best in the American League. He was also tied with the Rays' David Price with 58 strikeouts, the second most in the league. Max Scherzer led the AL with 60.

Lester is 3-3 with a 4.56 ERA in 12 career starts against the Rangers. His last victory, though, came in Arlington on Aug. 14, 2010, when he threw eight scoreless innings in a 3-1 victory. Since then he is 0-2 with a 7.62 ERA in five starts.

"You come into Texas, the biggest thing is you know what kind of lineup they're going to have," Lester said. "They're always going to have a good lineup. I think that's what makes this place so difficult, not so much the ballpark as their lineup."

Perez started the season with a 4-0 record and a 1.42 ERA in five starts. That included two complete-game shutouts and a 26-inning scoreless streak. He also defeated the Red Sox, 10-7, on April 8 in his second start while holding them to four runs in 6 1/3 innings. Mike Napoli was 3-for-3 in that game.

Perez's only other start against them was on July 24, 2012. In his third Major League start, Perez held the Red Sox to one run in six innings in a 2-1 loss.

"I just have to go out there and attack," Perez said. "I know I faced those guys three weeks ago. Just keep the ball down and use all my pitches. Be focused and stay focused the whole game."

Red Sox: Weather should warm up Ortiz
Designated hitter David Ortiz went into a three-game series with the Rangers hitting .258 with six home runs and 18 RBIs. He was also getting ready to play three games in Arlington with temperatures expected in the 80s.

Manager John Farrell said that will make a difference because Ortiz has a history of getting hot with the weather. Ortiz has a career OPS of .878 in April and .892 in May. He is at .972 for June and .996 for July. He is at .910 for August and .940 for September, when the pennant races heat up.

"As the weather is warm, we're seeing kind of a freer swing at home plate," Farrell said. "He's set such a high standard for himself, particularly coming back last year, where he's hitting over .400 when he first came back to us. You recognize that there's maintenance to every guy regardless of their position, regardless of the stage of their career. I'm not overly concerned if he's hitting .260 at this juncture of the season."

Rangers: Time for Sardinas to start?
Manager Ron Washington said he is considering the possibility of switch-hitter Luis Sardinas starting at second base on Saturday with Lester on the mound. Rougned Odor, a left-handed hitter, was called up Thursday to be the regular second baseman with Sardinas called up to serve as the utility infielder. But Sardinas is expected to play at least occasionally, and Saturday might be a good fit with a left-hander on the mound.

Sardinas is in his second stint with the Rangers. He was playing regularly at Double-A Frisco, but the Rangers will have to pick their spots about when he will be in the lineup.

"It's their decision," Sardinas said. "I'm here to play when they need me and wherever they need me."

Worth noting 
• Rangers catcher J.P. Arencibia is 8-for-44 with two home runs off of Lester. It's his most at-bats against any Major Leaguer.

• The Rangers are 7-6 when the opposition starts a left-hander, while the Red Sox are 8-4.

• Saturday's game is expected to be a complete sellout.

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