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CWS@BOS: Lester fans 12, walks none over seven frames

With a chance to sweep the series to start a vital second half, the Red Sox will send ace Jon Lester to the mound.

Lester enters Sunday's matchup with the Royals in the midst of his best season.

The lefty's ERA (2.65), WHIP (1.140), FIP (2.61) and BB/9 (2.0) are all at career-bests for the nine-year veteran.

Boston, which won a World Series title last season, went 43-52 before the All-Star break. But after wins on Friday and Saturday, the Red Sox have won six of their last seven games. Jonny Gomes keyed the victory on Friday with a go-ahead home run in the sixth inning. It was Mike Napoli's turn on Saturday, as he belted a go-ahead homer in the sixth in a 2-1 win.

"Before the break and the first day after the break, our goal hasn't changed. Our goal is still to win the division," Gomes said after Friday's 5-4 victory. "Win that last game of the year. Our goal hasn't changed one bit here."

Lester posted a 1.01 ERA in his last six starts, with the Red Sox going 6-0 in those games.

His latest masterpiece came against the White Sox as the lefty struck out 12 batters -- his third outing this year with at least 12 strikeouts -- and allowed one run in seven innings of a no-decision.

Royals rookie Yordano Ventura will make his first start against the Red Sox in his first exposure to fabled, 102-year-old Fenway Park.

So pitching coach Dave Eiland is likely to offer some advice for the young first-timer about, of course, the looming Green Monster in left field.

"You can't look over your right shoulder and see that big wall right up close. You can't let that affect you," Eiland said. "You've got to go out and execute pitches, and pitch to your strengths and the hitters' weaknesses, most to your strengths. You really can't change anything. Just be yourself."

Lester knows all about the vagaries of Fenway. He has a 50-30 record in his home park, including a 2008 no-hitter against the Royals.

"Just keep it simple. Don't let the surroundings affect how you go about your business," Eiland said. "Just the same thing as when you go into New York and Yankee Stadium. Oh, Yankee Stadium in New York! So what? A baseball player is just like everybody else … do your job and keep it simple."

Red Sox: Victorino returns
If Boston hopes to turn around its season, getting a healthy, productive Shane Victorino is step one.

The Red Sox right fielder, so integral in the team's World Series title run last year, made his return to the lineup on Saturday after missing 49 games with hamstring and back injuries.

He finished 1-for-3 with a single after being activated from the disabled list.

"I'm not the guy that's going to carry the load, but I'm going to try to be as good as I can be and help this team win," Victorino said before the game.

Royals: Cain expected back in lineup
Lorenzo Cain was out of the Royals' starting lineup on Saturday night as Jarrod Dyson replaced him as the center fielder and leadoff batter. But Cain is expected to return to the lineup on Sunday.

Cain was OK, except for an 0-for-19 slide, but manager Ned Yost likes to give his legs occasional rest, particularly against right-handed pitchers. So, he'll likely face Lester in the series finale.

"Three days at Tampa on that turf really beat his legs up," Yost said. "He didn't feel good in the Detroit series, but the four days off [for the All-Star break] got him back to feeling good."

Alex Gordon is the outfield anchor in left field, but a revolving pattern is emerging for Dyson and Cain in center, as well as Nori Aoki, Cain and Raul Ibanez in right.

Worth noting
• The Yankees announced that their recognition of retiring Derek Jeter's career will be on Sunday, Sept. 7, prior to the series finale against the Royals at Yankee Stadium.

• Gordon is just 2-for-17 with seven strikeouts lifetime against Lester.

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