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Jon Lester was a significant contributor in his rookie season with the Boston Red Sox last summer. He hopes to pick up where he left off when he returns to the mound for his first start since being diagnosed with cancer last August.

Eleven months after his last major league game, Lester will start for the Red Sox when they open a four-game series against the Cleveland Indians on Monday.

Lester was 7-2 with a 4.76 ERA in 15 starts before his 2006 season was cut short. The 23-year-old left-hander beat the Los Angeles Angels on Aug. 23 and nine days later, the Red Sox said that he had a treatable form of lymphoma.

"I don't think it really has sunken in yet," Lester said Sunday of his return to the majors, "and I don't think it will sink in until tomorrow when I get on the mound."

Lester started this season on the disabled list after undergoing treatment in the offseason. He was activated on June 11, but was optioned to the minors, where he was 4-5 with a 3.61 ERA between Single-A Greenville and Triple-A Pawtucket.

Oddsmakers have made Cleveland -130 money line favorites (MLB Odds) for todays game, the over/under has been set at 11 total runs (Matchup). Our public betting information shows that 83% of bets for this game have been placed on Boston +130 (View MLB Bet Percentages).

"It's been hard, but you have to sit back and see that they have your best interest involved," Lester said. "It's been hard getting treated like you're in a glass bottle, so it'd be nice to finally break through and get to pitch again."

Lester allowed three runs over six innings in one start against Cleveland last year, failing to receive a decision in Boston's 6-5 win on Aug. 2.

He will start for a Boston club looking to match its longest win streak in nearly two months. The Red Sox (59-39) have won three straight to claim a share of the majors' best record with Detroit. They have won four in a row only once since a five-game win streak May 25-29.

Manny Ramirez went 2-for-2 with a home run and four RBIs to help Boston to an 8-5 win over the Chicago White Sox on Sunday. The Red Sox have scored 29 runs with 31 hits in their last three games.

"It's just one of those situations where guys are having big at-bats in key situations and we're just going to try and keep it rolling," outfielder J.D. Drew said.

Ramirez is batting .385 (15-for-39) with four home runs and 13 RBIs in 11 games since the All-Star break. He is a career .345 hitter against Cleveland - the team he spent his first eight major league seasons with from 1993-2000.

Cleveland (58-40) won three of four in a road series against Texas over the weekend to pull within a game of AL Central-leading Detroit. Third baseman Casey Blake had three hits in the Indians' 8-3 victory on Sunday, one day after a 25-minute players-only meeting in the Cleveland locker room.

"I think it's important for the guys to get together," manager Eric Wedge said. "They're such a close group anyway. They wanted to get together (Saturday) and that's a good thing. I encourage that."

Blake has hit safely in each of his 15 games against the Red Sox since the beginning of the 2005 season, going 23-for-56 (.411) in those contests.

The Indians are the majors' best home team with a 31-14 mark at Jacobs Field. They lost two of three in Boston May 28-30, but outscored the Red Sox 28-12 to take two of three in Cleveland last season.

Jake Westbrook (1-5, 6.07) will start for the Indians in search of his first win in nearly two months. The right-hander is 0-3 in six starts since beating Baltimore on April 27. All three of those losses have come after he returned from a six-week stint on the disabled list because of a strained abdominal muscle.

Westbrook gave up four runs in six innings on Wednesday to suffer a 5-1 loss against the White Sox. He is 3-1 with a 4.23 ERA in five career starts against the Red Sox. MLB Expert George Smeader says he is picking Cleveland tonight. ‘The Indians stack up in my MLB System with a solid 6.0 rating’ he said. Another of our MLB Experts, Jimmy Boyd agrees. ‘ Boston is just 5-17 against the money line in road games when playing on Monday over the last 3 seasons' (MLB Trends).

by: Michael Cash - – Email Us

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