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BOS@BAL: Lester strikes out eight over seven strong

It's a matchup of Opening Day starters to close the opening series Sunday afternoon at Fenway Park.

Yovani Gallardo won the Brewers' opener and Jon Lester lost for the Red Sox, but both starters got off to quality starts to the season. Gallardo worked six shutout innings against the Braves for his first Opening Day victory in five tries. Lester allowed only two Orioles runs in seven innings and struck out eight, but saw the Sox fall in a 2-1 nailbiter.

"He's our ace," said Red Sox catcher David Ross of Lester. "He's the top of our rotation. We expect a lot out of him. He's a stud. He's one of the best pitchers in the game in my opinion and definitely one of the top left-handers in the game. We need him to pitch well if we're going to be successful. So I look for another good outing from him."

Lester faced the Brewers back in 2011, when he allowed four runs (three earned) on seven hits over eight innings of a 4-2 loss. Gallardo pitched the next day and also lost, allowing eight runs (five earned) on nine hits in only three innings.

Against the Braves on Monday, Gallardo battled first-inning nerves.

"I was just excited," he said following the Brewers' 2-0 win. "That extra adrenaline, being Game 1, Opening Day, I think always factors in. Getting out of that first inning, you tend to calm yourself down a little bit and go with the game plan that we had set.

"It's very important [to get off to a good start]. Obviously, I'm excited. I'm a lot more excited than what it seems like. Overall I think just winning the ballgame is the key thing and then you always want to start off the year on the right path."

Brewers: Roenicke: Gallardo a winner
• Manager Ron Roenicke knows that wins are out of style among stats enthusiasts when evaluating starting pitchers. He doesn't care. Roenicke has been arguing all spring that one of Gallardo's strengths is "he knows how to win."

"Anytime you get a pitcher out there that understands the game and what he needs to do to win ballgames -- it's not always ERA -- it's how you pitch when you need to win ballgames," Roenicke said, "and he knows how to do that."

Gallardo has led the Brewers in victories for four consecutive seasons.

Red Sox: Big Papi should be back
• Wily Peralta, Saturday's starting pitcher for the Brewers, grew up in the Dominican Republic a big fan of David Ortiz. But he missed the Red Sox slugger because of what Boston manager John Farrell called a scheduled day off.

Ortiz has been dealing with a tight right calf muscle since Spring Training. But, that was not the primary reason for the off-day, according to Farrell.

"I think he deals with a little bit of tightness from time to time, but as much as anything, this was more of a planned down day," Farrell said.

Worth noting
• Brewers starters have a 1.99 ERA after one turn through the five-man rotation (seven earned runs in 31 1/3 innings) and have not allowed more than three earned runs in any game.

• Mark Reynolds struck out four times on Saturday but also hit his first Brewers home run, and is a .271 hitter with 12 home runs against the Red Sox. Those are his highest marks against any American League club.

• Carlos Gomez also homered Saturday and has a hit in four of Milwaukee's five games.

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