Lester, Red Sox try to rebound from near no-hitter by Rangers

( - Boston's Jon Lester looks to build off a dominating effort from last time out as he takes the mound on Saturday night for the Red Sox in the second contest of a three-game series with the Texas Rangers.

The left-handed Lester snapped a two-start losing streak in a big way last Saturday in a 6-3 win over Oakland, scattering one hit and two walks over eight scoreless innings. The exclamation point for Lester was a career-high 15 strikeouts, giving him 38 over his last four starts.

Lester threw 76 of his 119 pitches for strikes and mixed power and command against the A's according to Red Sox manager John Farrell.

"He was locked in from the first pitch," said Farrell after Lester moved to 3-4 with a 2.59 earned run average on the year with 58 strikeouts in 48 2/3 innings.

The 30-year-old has fanned at least six batters in each of his seven starts and has split six career decisions versus the Rangers while pitching to a 4.56 ERA in 12 games.

The Rangers will counter with left-hander Martin Perez, who looks to avoid a third straight loss on the heels of winning four straight.

Perez began his recent winning streak with a 10-7 victory in Boston on April 8, allowing four runs over 6 1/3 innings to move to 1-0 with a 3.65 ERA in two career starts versus the Red Sox.

The 23-year-old was then dominant over his next three starts, hurling 26 straight scoreless innings.

That run came to an end with a 9-3 loss to Oakland on April 29 in which Perez allowed eight runs over 4 2/3 innings, and he then took an 8-2 setback at Colorado on Monday for yielding five runs on seven hits and three walks over five innings. Included in that was the first two homers Perez allowed this season.

Perez has pitched to a 3.59 ERA this year to go along with his 4-2 record and has a tough job at hand tonight following up Yu Darvish's near no-hitter in Friday's 8-0 victory for the Rangers.

Darvish was one out away from throwing the first Rangers no-hitter in 20 years before David Ortiz pulled a single through the shift on the right side.

Earlier, Darvish had retired the first 20 batters before Ortiz hit a two-out pop fly into right field in the seventh that dropped in between second baseman Rougned Odor and right fielder Alex Rios without either one touching the ball.

The official scorer ruled the play an error on Rios and Darvish worked his way through the order, not allowing a hit until the ninth.

"Typically 10 out of 10, that's a base hit," Farrell said of the play.

It marked the second time that Darvish came within an out of a no-hitter. He nearly threw a perfect game versus Houston on April 2 of last season before the Astros' Marwin Gonzalez hit a single to center.

"This is the second time I've experienced this," Darvish said through an interpreter. "If I keep pitching like this, one day I'll come through."

Elvis Andrus had four hits for the Rangers, Leonys Martin homered and Rios drove in two runs in the club's second straight win.

The Red Sox had won four of five coming in.

Boston took two of three from the Rangers earlier in the year.