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Monday’s Red Sox-White Sox matchups: Jon Lester vs. Dylan Axelrod

05.20.13 at 11:25 am ET

The undefeated Jon Lester will vie for his seventh win of the season Monday night as the Red Sox take on the White Sox for the first time in 2013. Dylan Axelrod will get the start for Chicago in the first game of the three-game set at U.S. Cellular Field.

The success of Lester in 2013 is a huge reason why the Red Sox are in the mix for the division lead through 44 games. The ace of the Boston staff has rebounded exceptionally from his disappointing 2012 season and comes into Monday’€™s game with a 6-0 record and 2.72 ERA. Through nine starts, Lester is putting up numbers that are reminiscent of his great 2010 season, in which he made the All-Star team and finished fourth in Cy Young voting.

Lester faltered a bit at the end of April, allowing more than three runs in a start for the first time in 2013 back on April 30 against Toronto, giving up six runs on six hits to the Jays. But Lester got back on track in a big way, throwing a complete-game, one-hit shutout the next time he took on Toronto. Lester notched his sixth win of the year his last time out, allowing two runs on eight hits to the Rays while striking out five batters in seven innings. With those five strikeouts, Lester now has 1,110 on his career, moving him past Josh Beckett for fifth place on the team’s all-time strikeout list.

‘€œThat’€™s pretty cool. It’€™s not something that you play for,’€ Lester said of the feat. ‘€œI play to win games and hopefully win the World Series. If it just so happens along the way your name moves along those lists, then great. ‘€¦ It’€™s an honor to be with those names that I’€™m sure are still ahead of me, and hopefully I can keep pitching, and hopefully we can bring more World Series here.’€

The White Sox have given Lester some trouble in the past, scoring 32 runs in 55 1/3 innings off of the Sox lefty, good for a 5.20 ERA in nine starts. Lester lasted only four innings in his last outing against the White Sox back in July 2012, giving up six runs on seven hits. The start came in a string of three outings in which Lester couldn’€™t get past the fifth inning. However, the first time he saw Chicago in 2012, Lester got the better of the White Sox lineup, throwing seven innings of shutout ball. But if there’€™s one batter Lester will have to be careful with in this Chicago lineup, it’€™s Paul Konerko. The power-hitting first baseman has 10 hits in 23 career at-bats against Lester, with six of those going for extra bases.

Lester will be matched up against Axelrod, who is 1-3 with a 4.27 ERA. The righty finally earned his first win of 2013 in his last outing, his eighth start of the year, going 5 1/3 innings and allowing three runs on a season-high nine hits to the Twins.

The 27-year-old Axelrod is in the midst of his first full season in the majors, spending his first month of last season with the Triple-A Charlotte Knights. The Red Sox have not seen much of Axelrod in his three years with the White Sox. He appeared in two games against the Sox in 2012 (one start and one relief appearance), allowing 10 hits and two runs in nine innings while striking out 10.

Axelrod doesn’€™t have overpowering stuff, with his fastball velocity sitting around 87-89 mph. He also uses a slider, curveball and changeup. He owns a 1.317 WHIP and an even 2.00 strikeout to walk rate on the year.

Red Sox vs. Axelrod (RHP)

Pedro Ciriaco (3): 1.000 AVG/1.000 OBP/1.333 SLG, 1 double

Jacoby Ellsbury (3): .000/.000/.000, 1 strikeout

Will Middlebrooks (3): .000/.000/.000, 2 strikeouts

David Ortiz (3): .333/.333/.333, 1 strikeout

Jarrod Saltalamacchia (3): .000/.000/.000, 2 strikeouts

Mike Napoli (2): .000/.500/.000, 1 walk

Dustin Pedroia (1): 1.000/1.000/1.000

Mike Carp, Stephen Drew, Jonny Gomes, Ryan Lavarnway, Daniel Nava and Shane Victorino have not faced Axelrod.

White Sox vs. Lester (LHP)

Alex Rios (42): .237/.310/.289, 2 doubles, 4 RBI, 4 walks, 9 strikeouts

Paul Konerko (26): .435/.500/.957, 3 HR, 3 doubles, 7 RBI, 3 walks, 4 strikeouts

Alexei Ramirez (24): .227/.292/.273, 1 double, 2 RBI, 2 walks, 5 strikeouts

Casper Wells (11): .000/.091/.000, 1 walk, 3 strikeouts

Adam Dunn (9): .167/.444/.167, 3 walks, 2 strikeouts

Alejandro De Aza (8): .286/.375/.571, 2 doubles, 1 RBI, 1 walk, 1 strikeout

Dayan Viciedo (8): .375/.375/.875, 1 HR, 1 double, 2 RBI, 3 strikeouts

Tyler Flowers (3): .333/.333/.333, 1 strikeout

Jeff Keppinger (2): .500/.500/.500, 1 strikeout

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