Friday, July 4, 2008

Lester Blanks Yanks; Hamels Stops Braves

Players of the Day from Thursday, July 3, 2008 American League The Red Sox struggled with Tampa Bay, dropping all three games of their series with the Rays, but they had little trouble ending their overall five-game skid as Jon Lester twirled a five-hit shutout to drop the Yankees, 7-0. Lester (8-5) threw 102 pitches, walking 2 while striking out 8. He stifled the heart of the Yankee batting order, limiting the first six hitters in the lineup to one hit in 20 at-bats. With the Rays idle, Boston picked up 1/2 game and trail by 3. The Yankees are 8 out of first, but have a chance to close the gap with three more games against Boston at Yankee Stadium this weekend. Notes: The Oakland A's dropped two of three to the Angels this week, but they opened their four-game set in Chicago with a key 3-2 win, ending the White Sox's 8-game winning streak. While the A's trail the Angels by 5 games in the West, Chicago remains in control of the Central, two games up on Minnesota, with the Tigers lurking, 6 games off the pace. National League Philadelphia may be the most balanced team in the National League and that's a key to their 2 1/2 game lead over Florida in the NL East. One large part of that balance resides in the left arm of Cole Hamels, who shut down the Atlanta Braves on Thursday for a 4-1 Philly win. Hamels (9-5) was working on a shutout until the Braves finally broke through for a run with two outs in the ninth. Tom Gordon came on to nail down the final out. Hamels gave up five hits and one earned run, striking out 7 while walking a pair. Notes: Hamels is third in the NL strikeout race, with 110, behind Edinson Volquez (113) and Tim Lincecum (122), who added 8 to his total on Thursday in an 8-3 win over the Cubs. Expect to see all three of these whiff masters on the mound for the Nationals in the July 15 All Star game.

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