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Friday’s Red Sox-Braves matchups: Jon Lester vs. Jair Jurrjens

06.22.12 at 9:34 am ET
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Jon Lester

Jon Lester will look to build on the success of his first win in nearly a month when he makes his second career start against the Braves on Friday at Fenway Park.

In three starts in the month of June, Lester is playing impressively, not allowing more than three earned runs in a game, something he did four times in the month of May. And after not recording at least eight strikeouts in a game all season, he’s done so in both of his last two starts. His first came in a nine strikeout performance against the Nationals on June 10 in which he did not get a decision after giving up the tying runs in the seventh.

He followed up that performance with an impressive outing at Wrigley Field on Saturday, striking out eight Cubs on his way to earning his first victory since May 19 at Philadelphia. He pitched 6 2/3 innings and allowed seven hits and three earned runs. His lone blunder came in the seventh when he gave up a three-run home run to Luis Valbuena that narrowed the Red Sox lead to 4-3. The Sox held on, bolstering Lester’s record to 4-4 on the season.

Lester owns a 4.53 ERA and 70 strikeouts (second-most on the Red Sox) as he enters Friday night’s matchup with the Braves looking to put together his second winning streak of the season. It’s the first time he’ll face the Braves since June 16, 2006, when he took them on at Turner Field in his second career start and earned his first career victory.

Eighty wins and 180 starts later, the left-hander will take on a Braves team that features only two players — Matt Diaz and Chipper Jones — from the 2006 lineup he faced. In 25 career chances against current Braves batters, Lester has been roughed up as he owns a .318 opponents batting average and doesn’t have any strikeouts.

Opposing Lester for the Braves will be Jair Jurrjens, who will be making his first start since April 23 after being demoted to the minor leagues for eight weeks. It’s been quite a role reversal over the last year for Jurrjens, who made an All-Star appearance last season. He had a 12-3 record and 1.87 ERA in the first half of 2011, earning him the All-Star selection, but it all went downhill from there.

Jurrjens is 1-5 with the Braves since last season’s All-Star Game. His problems have been compounded by a recurring right knee injury that landed him on the disabled list for the remainder of the season after his Aug. 30 start against the Nationals. An offseason of rehabilitation didn’t help matters, though, as the 26-year-old right-hander was demoted for the first time in his career to Triple-A Gwinnett after a poor start to the season in which he went 0-2 and compiled a 9.37 ERA.

At Gwinnett, Jurrjens wasn’t electic, putting together a 5.27 ERA in nine starts, but he nonetheless returned to the big leagues. He’ll take over in the rotation for Brandon Beachy, who was recently put on the DL for an injury of his own.

Jurrjens has made two career starts against the Red Sox, both occurring in back-to-back outings in 2009. He got a no-decision, pitching 6 1/3 innings, giving up eight hits, five runs (two earned) and striking out six in a 6-5 Braves loss at Fenway in his first start before he was tagged with the loss in his next start in Atlanta. In that one, he tossed eight innings, surrendered seven hits, four runs (three earned) and struck out six as the Red Sox won, 4-1.

In 53 career chances against current Red Sox batters, Jurrjens has held them to a .286 batting average and struck them out 11 times. David Ortiz has two home runs in six plate appearances.

Braves vs. Lester (LHP)

Matt Diaz (6 plate appearances): .333 BA/.333 OBP/.333 SLG

Dan Uggla (5): .400/.400/1.000, 1 home run, 1 RBI

Michael Bourn (3): .667/.667/.667

Eric Hinske (3): .000/.000/.000

Chipper Jones (3): .500/.333/.500, 1 RBI

Jack Wilson (3): .000/.000/.000, 1 RBI

Tim Hudson (2): .000/.000/.000

Red Sox vs. Jurrjens (RHP)

Cody Ross (14 plate appearances): .231 BA/.214 OBP/.462 SLG, 1 home run, 5 RBIs, 2 strikeouts

Adrian Gonzalez (13): .273/.385/.727, 2 doubles, 1 home run, 3 RBIs, 2 walks, 3 strikeouts

Dustin Pedroia (8): .375/.375/.625, 2 doubles, 1 RBI, 1 strikeout

Kevin Youkilis (7): .167/.286/.167, 1 walk, 2 strikeouts

David Ortiz (6): .500/.500/1.500, 2 home runs, 3 RBIs, 1 strikeout

Nick Punto (3): .333/.333/.667, 1 double, 1 strikeout

Vicente Padilla (2): .000/.000/.000, 1 strikeout

Read More: Braves, Jair Jurrjens, Jon Lester, Red Sox
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