CHICAGO – Adam Dunn hit a three-run homer in the first inning and the White Sox handed Jon Lester his first loss of the season with a 6-4 victory over the Boston Red Sox on Monday night.
Alejandro De Aza and Alexei Ramirez added consecutive RBI doubles in the second as Chicago took advantage of an ineffective Lester (6-1) to earn its fifth win in seven games in the opener of an eight-game homestand. The White Sox scored each of their runs with two outs.
Jarrod Saltalamacchia hit a two-run homer for the Red Sox, who had won five in a row. Saltalamacchia made a bid for a second two-run shot, but Dayan Viciedo brought in his drive on the warning track in left-center with the White Sox clinging to a 6-4 lead in the seventh.
Boston right fielder Shane Victorino went 1-for-3 before he left in the bottom of the sixth with left hamstring tightness. He also missed games on Friday and Saturday with a back injury.
Lester was trying to become the first left-handed starter to win his first seven decisions for Boston since Roger Moret in 1973. But he was shaky in the first couple of innings while falling to 4-5 in 10 career games against the White Sox to go along with a 5.43 ERA, his highest against any AL team.
Lester retired his first two batters before running into trouble. Alex Rios singled to extend his hitting streak to 15 games and Paul Konerko walked before Dunn drove a 2-0 pitch to right for his fifth homer in seven games and No. 11 on the year.
Chicago added two more in the second, and Viciedo singled home Ramirez to make it 6-2 in the fifth.
Lester retired the side in order in the sixth, and that was it for him. He allowed five earned runs and seven hits, walked three and struck out two.
While Lester struggled, Dylan Axelrod (2-3) pitched six effective innings to win his second straight start. The right-hander, who could lose his spot in the rotation when John Danks comes off the disabled list, gave up two runs and four hits.
Matt Thornton yielded Will Middlebrooks' two-run double in the seventh and Jesse Crain extended his scoreless streak to 17 innings before Addison Reed finished for his 15th save in 16 chances.
With one out and a runner on first in the ninth, Middlebrooks hit a drive that De Aza caught at the wall in center field. Konerko then made a diving stop on Stephen Drew's grounder and flipped the ball to Reed covering first to end the game.
The White Sox improved to 9-9 at home on the first night of a stretch of 17 of 23 games in Chicago that includes two against the Cubs at Wrigley Field. If the White Sox (20-23) can turn around their sluggish play at U.S. Cellular Field, it could be a chance to make up some ground in the bunched AL Central.