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04/05/2007 11:53 PM ET
RiverDogs spoil Lester's return
Red Sox left-hander makes first start since cancer treatment
Jon Lester is the first rookie left-hander in Red Sox history to win his first five decisions. (Billy Crowe)

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Jon Lester made a successful return to the mound on Thursday night, but Wilmer Pino delivered an RBI single in the bottom of the 10th inning to give the Charleston RiverDogs a 1-0 triumph over the Greenville Drive.

Lester looked sharp in his first start since being diagnosed with anaplastic large cell lymphoma last August. He allowed two hits and one walk with five strikeouts over four scoreless innings.

The 23-year-old left-hander, who was 7-2 with a 4.76 ERA with the Red Sox last season, underwent six chemotherapy treatments and reported to Boston's training camp cancer-free. He is expected to make three more rehabilitation starts for Class A Greenville to build up his stamina.

But after reaching 96 mph on the radar gun at Joseph P. Riley Jr. Ballpark, it might not be long before Lester returns to Fenway Park.

"I felt good out there," he said. "There were a little jitters, but overall I was feeling really good. I'm about as close as you can get to feeling 100 percent."

Asked where he sees himself following his stay in Greenville, Lester replied, "no idea."

"I would like to return tomorrow. We'll have to sit down and see where we are. Hopefully, in four starts I'll be in [Triple-A] Pawtucket or Boston."

Lester was lifted after four innings in favor of Travis Beazley, who fanned four over five hitless innings.

Terry Large (0-1) came on in the 10th and immediately got in trouble by serving up a leadoff double to Christopher Malec and a bunt single to Eduardo Nunez. After an intentional walk to Josue Calzado and a strikeout, Pino lined a single to center field to plate the game's only run.

Five Charleston hurlers combined for 14 strikeouts. Starter Timothy Norton allowed only two hits with five strikeouts in five scoreless innings. David Robertson fanned two in 1 1/3 frames, while Gabriel Medina and Jonathan Hovis each struck out three over 1 2/3 innings.

Nicholas Peterson (1-0) came on with two outs in the 10th and fanned Manuel Arambarris to get the win.

Malec had two of the RiverDogs' five hits.

Jason Place collected two of Greenville's seven hits but also struck out three times.

Former Red Sox outfielder Gabe Kapler made his managerial debut for the Drive.

Marc Jimenez is a contributor to MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of the National Association of Professional Baseball Leagues or its clubs.