Consistent Lester

Jon Lester has been very consistent lately, and the timing would be right for the Boston Red Sox to get another solid outing from him.

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Lester looks to win four consecutive starts for the first time in his young career, while helping the AL East-leading Red Sox avoid a three-game sweep on Sunday in the finale of an interleague home series with the St. Louis Cardinals.

Oddsmakers from have made Boston -184 money line favorites (MLB Odds) for tonight's game, the over/under has been set at 9.5 total runs (Matchup). Current public betting information shows that 71% of bets for this game have been placed on Boston -184 (View MLB Bet Percentages).

Lester (6-3, 3.18 ERA) has helped Boston (46-31) win 10 of his 16 starts this season. He is 5-1 with a 2.09 ERA in his last 10 outings, limiting opponents to three earned runs or fewer per game in that span, which includes a no-hitter against Kansas City on May 19.

Additionally, the Red Sox haven't lost in the third-year left-hander's last four starts. He scattered six hits and struck out five in seven innings Tuesday to give Boston a 3-0 win at Philadelphia.

"It seems like every start, things are getting better," said Lester, who has walked just two batters over his last 20 1-3 innings. "Walks are going down, I'm more around the zone with better command of my stuff. I have the confidence to throw any pitch, any time."

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Lester has also had little trouble facing NL opponents, going 4-0 with a 1.86 ERA in his five career interleague starts - all victories for the Red Sox.

This will be his first appearance against St. Louis (44-32), which won 5-4 on Friday and followed it up with a 9-3 victory on Saturday to end Boston's run of six straight series wins.

Troy Glaus hit a grand slam, while Aaron Miles and Jason LaRue each finished with two RBIs for the Cardinals, who have scored 14 runs in these two games after managing four in a three-game home sweep by Kansas City before this series.

"I guess you could say we were in a little bit of a lull there that last series we had at home, but I think it's normal for teams to do that," Miles told the Cardinals' official Web site.

St. Louis also improved to 5-5 without six-time All-Star Albert Pujols, who is out with a strained left calf.

Saturday's outing was a bad one for Red Sox starter Daisuke Matsuzaka. The right-hander was roughed up for seven runs and seven hits in one-plus inning - the shortest outing of his brief career - in his return from the disabled list.

"It just was not a good day," Boston manager Terry Francona said.

Matsuzaka hadn't pitched since May 27 because of a mild rotator cuff strain, and as a result, St. Louis won for the sixth time in seven road games.

The Red Sox will try to keep the Cardinals' Joel Pineiro (2-3, 4.02) winless for a seventh straight start. Pineiro made 31 relief appearances for the Red Sox last season before he was traded to the Cardinals on July 30.

The right-hander is 0-1 with a 4.22 ERA in six outings since beating Cincinnati on April 29, but was solid on Tuesday. He limited Kansas City to one run and seven hits over seven innings, but left without a decision for the second straight time in a 2-1 home loss.

Pineiro is 9-4 with a 3.03 ERA, while starting 20 of 28 career interleague appearances. He is 3-5 with a 6.75 ERA in nine career starts versus Boston.

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