BOSTON -- Jon Lester could be heard shouting out a mild expletive as Kendrys Morales' pop fly ended a 33-pitch first inning Tuesday night.
Tough way to start, but Lester settled in and worked 6 1/3 strong innings to lead the Boston Red Sox to a 2-1 victory over the Minnesota Twins.
There were some close calls on pitches in that inning, but Lester said he wasn't mad at umpire Clint Fagan.
"Just more myself -- just a lot of pitches that inning," Lester said after winning a pitcher's duel against Phil Hughes (7-3) and raising his record to above .500 (8-7) for the first time this season. "I just couldn't get the leadoff hitter (Danny Santana) out (11 pitches before a single), a lot of foul balls. Then the walk to (Josh) Willingham (with two outs). Just fortunate enough to get back in that inning without any runs on the board.
"I've always been a guy that needs to let my emotions out. If they get in and linger too long, that's when I feel it hinders me or makes me worse. Just gotta let them out. Nothing directed at anybody but me."
Lester allowed one run on four hits and a walk. He struck out six.
Minnesota manager Ron Gardenhire said, "Lester was filthy tonight."
The veteran left-hander, who entered this season with a 100-56 career record, was 2-2, 4-4, 6-6 and 7-7 and is 8-7 with the help of the bullpen and further great play by utility man extraordinaire Brock Holt.
The rookie made his debut as a center fielder, and he contributed two hits, a stolen base and a most unusual catch. Left fielder Jonny Gomes lost a ball in the twilight, but there was Holt, making a diving, tumbling catch to end the third inning.
"It's huge," Lester said of the catch. "It seems like Brock at some point each game has an effect on what's going on. Two great at-bats tonight, he steals third and produces a run for us. Obviously another new position tonight -- he does a great job ... I'm sure we'll see him with catcher's gear and on the mound at some point this year."
Holt has started at five different positions this season, playing for the first time at four of them, including all three outfield spots. He is hitting .338.
The play? "I ran to the wrong spot. That's why I had to do (dive)," Holt said.
Four Boston relievers finished up, with Edward Mujica earning his second save because closer Koji Uehara was unavailable after pitching three consecutive days. Mujica threw a perfect ninth, striking out two, after right-hander Junichi Tazawa struck out the side in the eighth.
The Red Sox (33-38) won for the second consecutive night despite again struggling on offense. They have seven runs in the past four games, and Tuesday marked their 25th game with two runs or fewer. They are 2-for-28 with runners in scoring position over the past four games.
Second baseman Dustin Pedroia (two hits, the second almost a home run) doubled home a run in the first inning, and third baseman Xander Bogaerts made it 2-0 with a sacrifice fly after Holt swiped third base in the third. That was enough to beat Hughes, who came in with a 6.56 ERA at Fenway Park, a mark compiled during his time with the New York Yankees.
"Normally in years past, that's a feat to come into here and pitch a pretty good ballgame," Hughes said. "Unfortunately tonight it just wasn't in the cards. (We) couldn't score enough runs to beat them.
"This is a dangerous team, especially here at home. To go out there and give a quality effort is big, but at the end of the day, you want wins, and that's the name of the game."
First baseman Joe Mauer hit an RBI double in the sixth inning for the Twins (32-37).
Hughes, taking his first loss in six road decisions this season, went all the way, yielding eight hits. He didn't walk anyone, and he has issued only eight passes in 14 starts, the fewest among big league starters.
Lester fanned third baseman Eduardo Escobar in the fifth for his 1,342nd career strikeout, moving him past Cy Young into fourth place on Boston's all-time strikeout list.
NOTES: The Red Sox designated OF Grady Sizemore for assignment, at least temporarily ending his comeback attempt after two years out of the game. The team said it would consider keeping Sizemore, who hit just .216, in Triple-A if he is not claimed. Boston called up INF Garin Cecchini from Pawtucket. ... Manager Ron Gardenhire said the Twins would select the contract of RHP Yohan Pino from Triple-A Rochester, and Pino will make his major league debut Thursday at home against the Chicago White Sox. RHP Samuel Deduno was shifted to the bullpen. ... The Red Sox signed RHP Michael Kopech, their second pick in the recent draft (No. 33 overall). ... Boston RHP John Lackey faces Minnesota RHP Kyle Gibson in the Wednesday matinee that ends the series. ... Twins OF Aaron Hicks (shoulder) will begin a rehab assignment with Double-A New Britain on Wednesday ... Minnesota INF Eduardo Nunez (hamstring strain) missed his third consecutive game.