SAN FRANCISCO — While most of his Boston Red Sox teammates were engulfed in the tornado known as Alex Rodriguez on Sunday night, Jon Lester was able to focus on something far less interesting.
The last-place San Francisco Giants.
Lester flew into San Francisco a day ahead of his teammates and might have earned the Red Sox’s traveling secretary a raise. He shut out the Giants on six hits over 8 1/3 innings in Boston’s 7-0 interleague victory Monday night.
“Anytime you have these long travel days, you like to have your pitcher be in control,” said Red Sox manager John Farrell, whose team touched down in San Francisco around 1 p.m. Pacific time, a little more than six hours before the first pitch.
“On a night when we could use a guy to get deep in the game, he gave us that. He gave us exactly what we needed.”
The win came in the wake of Sunday’s emotionally and physically draining 9-6 home loss to the New York Yankees, a game that included beanball accusations and a retaliatory, game-changing home run by Rodriguez.
The Red Sox elected to sleep at home after the rare Sunday night start, which led to the late arrival in San Francisco. However, Lester was part of a three-man contingent — one that included Tuesday’s scheduled starter, Jake Peavy — that was allowed to fly west a day early.
The result? Lester’s first win in August and a triumph that allowed Boston to retain a one-game lead in the American League East over the Tampa Bay Rays.
“Obviously the guys had a long day,” Lester said. “For us to come with that travel schedule, which guys aren’t normally accustomed to, and do what we did tonight was big for us.”
The day already was a memorable one for the Red Sox, who promoted 20-year-old phenom Xander Bogaerts to the big leagues for the first time. One of the game’s top prospects, the five-tool shortstop/third baseman did not play after becoming the youngest position player to suit up for Boston since Dwight Evans debuted in 1972.
Lester, who had two no-decisions and a loss to Kansas City to show for his previous three August starts, coasted after being staked to a 3-0 lead in the second inning.
Pitching into the ninth inning for the first time since a complete game on May 10, he struck out three and walked two. It was the fourth time this season he has started a Red Sox shutout.
Lester (11-7) convinced Farrell to give him a shot at his second complete-game shutout of the season, but he left after three hard-hit balls — including two hits — in the ninth.
“I’m competitive. I wanted to finish the game,” Lester said. “Unfortunately, I couldn’t do that. (Brandon) Workman picked me up.”
Lester didn’t allow a baserunner until Andres Torres led off the San Francisco fourth with a single, and he permitted only three Giants to reach second base.
Torres had three of the Giants’ six hits off Lester, who improved his career interleague record to 12-5.
“We talked before the game not to make a big issue about the travel,” Farrell said. “We took a morning flight instead of a night flight. That’s it.”
Workman pitched out of a two-on, one-out situation in the ninth to complete Boston’s seventh shutout of the season.
True to form, the majors’ top-hitting team against right-handed pitching teed off on the Giants’ Tim Lincecum (6-13) for nine hits and five runs in five-plus innings. Shane Victorino had three of the nine hits, including an RBI single that capped the three-run second.
“He really didn’t have his good stuff,” Giants manager Bruce Bochy said of Lincecum, who has lost four of his six starts since his July 13 no-hitter. “He got some pitches up. They’re a good hitting ballclub, and they took advantage of it.”
Daniel Nava had three hits, and Jarrod Saltalamacchia and Stephen Drew added two apiece in a 12-hit attack for the Red Sox. Jacoby Ellsbury had only one hit, but it allowed him to hit safely in his 13th consecutive interleague games this season.
Lincecum was pulled one batter into the sixth inning with the Giants trailing 4-0. That baserunner, Ellsbury, eventually scored on a Guillermo Moscoso wild pitch.
Lincecum’s sixth career balk contributed to Boston’s three-run second. A two-out, run-scoring single by Victorino capped the uprising.
NOTES: The Red Sox’s second-inning rally also featured a catcher interference call on the Giants’ Buster Posey with Ellsbury at the plate. … The game pitted the team with the majors’ best interleague record (Boston, 10-3) against the club with the second-worst (San Francisco, 4-11). … The only two previous times the Red Sox have visited San Francisco, the losing team in the series (the Red Sox in 2004, the Giants in 2010) went on to win the World Series. … Bogaerts was one of eight Red Sox involved in transactions Monday. C David Ross and RHP Brayan Villarreal also were promoted from Triple-A Pawtucket, while INF Brock Holt, C Ryan Lavarnway and RHP Rubby De La Rosa went in the other direction. … In order to create openings on the 40-man roster for Bogaerts and Ross, the Red Sox transferred RHPs Andrew Bailey and Clay Buchholz to the 60-day disabled list.