Lester puts controversy to rest with Game 5 masterpiece

(SportsNetwork.com) - Jon Lester went through the gamut following Game 1, first reveling in a scoreless World Series performance then having to answer questions about a strange substance found in his glove.

Red Sox manager John Farrell attributed the unidentified green ink blot to a rosin bag his ace keeps in his glove, and Lester equally refuted any accusations of doctoring the ball.

Any talk of Lester's glove ended Monday with his left arm.

Squaring off against Adam Wainwright for the second time this series, Lester limited the St. Louis Cardinals to one run over 7 2/3 innings as the Red Sox moved within one win of a World Series title with a 3-1 victory in Game 5.

The left-hander sent the Red Sox back to Boston with a 3-2 lead by allowing only four hits and striking out seven to join Curt Schilling and Pedro Martinez as the only Boston pitchers with six career postseason wins.

"I expect a lot of high things from myself, as do my teammates," Lester said. "You don't want to let those guys down. And we're all trying to pull on the same rope and get to one common goal. And that's what makes this team pretty special."

David Ortiz is the likely favorite to win the MVP award if Boston takes home the championship, since the slugger is hitting an otherworldly .733 (11-of-15) with two home runs and six RBI through the first five games.

But Lester's numbers can't be overlooked. He's pitched into the eighth both times out, given up just one run on nine hits, walked one and fanned 15 -- all while battling tightness in his back.

"That started to gradually come on a little bit more. You could see his reaction after he'd throw a pitch," Farrell said of the back injury. "There was a little bit of gathering after each pitch."

That explains why Farrell pulled Lester after the 29-year-old threw only 91 pitches -- 61 of which went for strikes. He retired 13 of the final 14 hitters he faced after yielding a Matt Holliday homer in the fourth inning.

He completely controlled a St. Louis lineup that led the NL in runs and improved to 3-0 with a 0.43 ERA over 21 innings in three career World Series outings.

If the Red Sox wrap up the series Wednesday in Game 6, or Thursday if necessary, they certainly have Ortiz to thank, but Lester has made a strong case for being on the trophy stand with him, controversy or not.