Lester (1-1) allowed one run on four hits in an 87-pitch outing. The former second-round draft pick faced four batters over the minimum, striking out one and issuing just one walk. Luis Montanez's leadoff homer in the sixth inning accounted for the Tides' only run.
"I feel real good right now, physically. It's real close," said Lester. "The important thing is to get it up there to 95-100 pitches and then repeat it."
Lester is working his way back to the Major Leagues after being diagnosed with anaplastic large cell lymphoma last August. He suffered a setback on May 19 against Ottawa, when he was removed from the game due to cramping in his left forearm. Since then, however, he has allowed just two runs over 17 innings.
The 6-foot-2 southpaw said that his comeback has been strictly about allowing his body to recover.
"Actually, it's all physical. Just rebuilding my strength and getting the weight back. Mentally, there's been no mental block. I'm just back to doing what I love to do, pitching again and not worrying about other things."
Lester has a 1.26 ERA over six starts spanning 28 2/3 innings with Pawtucket (22-31) and is 1-1 with a 1.51 ERA overall, including three starts for Class A Greenville. He said he's not certain, nor concerned with, when or in what capacity he might rejoin the big-league staff.
"To be honest, I find out what my pitch count and innings are, like, the day before I pitch. I don't know what their plan is, but hopefully it'll be soon.
"[Julian] Tavares isn't normally a starter, so that's a spot that sort of sticks out. But he's pitched well and the other four have, too. If they want me to pitch in relief, that's fine. Or I'll keep being a starter if that's what they want me to do. I'm just going to keep building up my strength."
The Red Sox got on the board in the second inning, as Michael Tucker, who doubled to open the frame and moved to third on single, scored on Ed Rogers' squeeze bunt. David Murphy ripped his fourth home run of the season to lead off the seventh, and Bobby Scales later added an RBI triple to cap the scoring.
Tim Kester (3-5) took the loss, allowing three runs -- two earned -- on nine hits over five innings. Nick McCurdy tossed a scoreless sixth before yielding two runs in the seventh. --Benjamin Hill/MLB.com
Benjamin Hill 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.