BOSTON – When Jon Lester ran into trouble in the eighth Tuesday night, giving up back-to-back singles to lead off the inning in a tie game, Red Sox Manager Terry Francona sent the message: This was Lester’s problem to solve on his own.

“That was a lot of responsibility,” Francona said. “He deserves to have that confidence in him.”

Lester pitched out of a bases-loaded jam, thanks to slick fielding from Dustin Pedroia, and Jeremy Hermida hit a bases-clearing double in the bottom half to lead Boston to a 5-1 victory against the Los Angeles Angels.

“It’s nice to be able to fight out of that and get the ‘W,’ ” Lester said. “When you’re able to get out of those jams, it just builds confidence. So when you get into games that really matter, you can draw back and say, ‘I’ve been here before.’ “

The Angels have started a 10-game trip with five straight losses.

One night after the Angels gave up 17 runs in the series opener, Ervin Santana quieted the Red Sox, allowing one run in seven innings but earning his third straight no-decision. After he left, Boston scored four runs off Kevin Jepsen (0-1).

“(Santana) had to match Lester pitch for pitch and he did,” Angels Manager Mike Scioscia said. “We had some opportunities and Lester minimized the damage on their end. Obviously, getting out of the eighth was big for those guys.”

Jepsen gave up four runs on two hits and three walks while getting just two outs in the eighth. Mike Napoli had three of the Angels’ five hits.

Lester (2-2) allowed one run, walking two and striking out five before Jonathan Papelbon pitched a perfect ninth in a non-save situation. Marco Scutaro had three hits, including a pair of doubles, to help the Red Sox win their second straight since being swept over the weekend by the lowly Baltimore Orioles.

“Obviously we haven’t been playing that well,” Lester said. “The last two nights, it seems like things are going in the right direction.”

Los Angeles loaded the bases with one out in the eighth, but Lester got out of it when Bobby Abreu hit a grounder to second baseman Pedroia, who chased down the runner to tag him before throwing to first to end the inning.

“We needed that to happen,” Francona said. “As the game gets closer, you’re going to get the best out of (Pedroia). We’ve come to expect it.”

In the bottom half, Boston loaded the bases with none out before David Ortiz hit into a second-to-home-to-first double play. After Jepsen walked his third batter of the inning, Hermida one-hopped a double off the wall in left to make it 4-1.

“Those situations are fun,” Hermida said. “I live for moments like that. It’s what you play the game for.”

Pinch-hitter Mike Lowell doubled off Scott Shields to score Hermida.

Ortiz finished hitless in four at-bats with two strikeouts and two double plays.

“David’s fine,” Pedroia said. “He’s one of our teammates. We believe in him. He’s going to come out of it. He’s had 60 at-bats.

“A couple of years ago I had 60 at-bats and it was me hitting .170 and everybody was ready to kill me, too. Then what happened?” said Pedroia, who was batting .172 on May 1, 2007, but went on to win the AL Rookie of the Year. “Laser show.”

Lester gave up seven runs in an April 18 loss to Tampa Bay, but didn’t allow a run in the two starts since then. He retired the first seven batters easily, then got an inning-ending double play after Napoli singled in the third.

But the shutout string ended when Erick Aybar walked to lead off the fourth, then took third on Torii Hunter’s double. Kendry Morales hit a bouncer into the hole on the left side of the infield, but Scutaro went into the outfield to get it and threw to first to get the batter.

Hideki Matsui grounded out to the pitcher to end the inning.


NOTES: Red Sox outfielder Jacoby Ellsbury (bruised left side) hit in a group for live batting practice for the first time since colliding with Adrian Beltre on April 11. Francona said right-hander Clay Buchholz wasn’t seriously injured by a line drive off his foot Monday night.


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