Originally posted on NESN.com  |  Last updated 8/8/13
Just when it looked like Jon Lester was back on track after two wins to close out July, he took a giant leap back against the Diamondbacks last Friday. Lester allowed six runs on 11 hits against Arizona in four 1/3 innings of work. He didn’t factor in the decision, though, as Boston was able to come back despite being down late. Lester’s ERA is now up to 4.52, while his record remains at 10-6. It won’t get any easier for Lester on Thursday night, as he will have to face a surprising Royals team in the American League Central. Kansas City has gone 8-2 over its last 10 games, and it currently sits five games out of the last Wild Card spot. The Royals will send left-hander Bruce Chen to the mound to face Boston on Thursday. Chen began the year in the bullpen, but he has started in each of his last four appearances. He is 1-0 with a 1.50 ERA over those four starts, and 4-0 overall. Chen will face a very different Boston lineup than usual on Thursday, as David Ortiz will start the night on the bench. Jonny Gomes will hit in Ortiz’s usual clean-up spot, while Mike Napoli will take over the designated hitter duties. Stephen Drew will also be rewarded for his three-run home run in the ninth inning on Wednesday night, which gave the Red Sox a 7-5 win, with a move up to the No. 5 spot in the order. With Napoli at DH, Daniel Nava will get the start at first after missing three games for the birth of his first child. Check out the lineups for both teams below. Boston Red Sox (69-46) Jacoby Ellsbury, CF Shane Victorino, RF Dustin Pedroia, 2B Jonny Gomes, LF Stephen Drew, SS Mike Napoli, DH Daniel Nava, 1B Jarrod Saltalamacchia, C Brock Holt, 3B Jon Lester, LHP Kansas City Royals (58-53) Lorenzo Cain, CF, Eric Hosmer 1B Billy Butler, DH Alex Gordon, LF Miguel Tejada, 2B Justin Maxwell, RF Mike Moustakas, 3B Brett Hayes, C Alcides Escobar, SS Bruce Chen, LHP Filed under: Boston Red Sox, Cameron McDonough, Eastern Bank Leading Off, Headlines

This article first appeared on NESN.com and was syndicated with permission.

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