Michael Young spoiled Lester's perfect-game bid with one out into the seventh with a sharply hit double to left-center, but otherwise, the Rangers (32-23) struggled mightily against the 25-year-old southpaw.
"That was just lights-out," Young said of Lester's performance. "That was one of the best games I've seen in my career by a pitcher. He was topping at 98 [mph], pounding the strike zone. He used all his pitches, back-doored his cutter, threw his cutter in, and threw his curve ball and changeup. You have to give him credit. He flat out threw a good game."
Said Nelson Cruz: "He was nasty."
Saturday marked the fourth time this season that the Rangers have been held to one run or fewer, and just the third in which they were limited to two hits or fewer.
"We couldn't find the fat head of our bat, and Lester left nothing over the middle of the plate," manager Ron Washington said. "We have to tip our hat. All we can do is take a shower, let it go down the drain and come back tomorrow."
Mike Lowell opened the scoring for Boston (33-23) in the second, connecting on an 0-2 slider from Rangers starter Derek Holland (1-3) that barely cleared the red line along the top of the Green Monster for a home run. The hit was initially ruled a double before being reviewed and overturned by crew chief Jeff Kellogg.
In the fifth, Dustin Pedroia lined an RBI single to left field to score Nick Green, who had reached on a fielder's choice and advanced to second on a balk by Holland. Jason Bay chased the 23-year-old lefty three batters later, capping a 10-pitch at-bat with a single to left that plated Pedroia and Jacoby Ellsbury.
"I kind of let one thing get to me," Holland said. "The balk just stayed in my head the whole time, and I lost my composure out there. You just let one thing build up, and it's kind of a snowball effect."
Slumping Sox slugger David Ortiz led off the sixth by hooking a fastball from Kris Benson off Pesky's Pole for just his second home run of the season. Pedroia knocked in Jason Varitek with a single to right field later in the frame, and Kevin Youkilis followed with an RBI single to left that scored Rocco Baldelli. Pedroia also scored on the play thanks to a throwing error by left fielder Brandon Boggs.
An eight-run lead was more than enough cushion for Lester (5-5), who carved up one of the best lineups in baseball with relative ease.
"I know his record doesn't show how good he can pitch, but I think the Red Sox fans know how good he can pitch," Washington said. "Tonight was one of the nights he did it."