BOSTON (AP) -- Jon Lester didn't feel very good warming up before the game. He couldn't have done much better once it started.
The lefty struck out a career-high 15, allowing one hit over eight scoreless innings and pitching the Boston Red Sox over the Oakland Athletics 6-3 on Saturday.
"It's probably the worst cutter I've thrown in a bullpen in a long time, but I don't take much stock in my bullpens anymore," Lester said. "You're down there to get loose. I think the biggest thing for me is just getting on the mound and getting that adrenaline going."
He faced 26 batters and just nine hit the ball in fair territory. The only A's to reach base against him were Craig Gentry on a leadoff single in the third and Derek Norris on walks to start the fifth and eighth.
"Just the combination of power and command was impressive," Boston manager John Farrell said. "He was locked in seemingly from the first pitch."
Lester (3-4) got plenty of support on a grand slam by Jonny Gomes and solo homers by David Ortiz and David Ross in Boston's second straight win after losing a day-night doubleheader to Tampa Bay on Thursday.
But Oakland scored three runs off Chris Capuano in the ninth and had the tying run at the plate before Koji Uehara struck out Alberto Callaspo and retired Brandon Moss on a fly to right, securing his seventh save in seven opportunities.
"I knew we had it the whole way," Lester said. "We've got the best closer in baseball out there."
The only hit off Lester was Gentry's bloop single in the third over the head of second baseman Dustin Pedroia.
"That's the best performance I've seen him have," Oakland's Nick Punto said.
Lester rebounded from taking the loss in his previous two games by striking out nine of his first 13 batters. His previous strikeout best was 13 on July 24, 2010, in a 5-1 loss at Seattle.
"He looked pretty cozy out there," Gomes said.
Lester, who threw a no-hitter on May 19, 2008 against Kansas City, struck out every hitter in the Oakland lineup, fanning Josh Reddick three times and Punto, Callaspo, Coco Crisp and Josh Donaldson twice each.
Gomes hit the fifth slam of his career one day after Pedroia hit one. Tommy Milone (0-3) allowed Gomes' homer after Pedroia walked, Xander Bogaerts singled and Ortiz walked.
"It always seems that every time you walk somebody they have a tendency of scoring," Milone said, "so it just took that one big hit from Gomes to set the tone."
CUBS 3, CARDINALS 0
CHICAGO -- Junior Lake and Anthony Rizzo homered, leading Jake Arrieta and the Chicago Cubs past the St. Louis Cardinals 3-0 Saturday for their season-best third win in a row.
A day after the Cubs tagged St. Louis ace Adam Wainwright, they came back to beat Michael Wacha (2-3).
The Cubs have their longest winning streak since a three-game sweep of San Francisco in late July.
Arrieta struck out seven over 51/3 innings in his season debut. He gave up four hits.
YANKEES 9, RAYS 3
NEW YORK -- Masahiro Tanaka extended his regular-season unbeaten streak to 40 starts, and Mark Teixeira homered and drove in three runs to help the Yankees rally past the Tampa Bay Rays 9-3 and end a season-high, three-game losing streak.
Kelly Johnson hit a tiebreaking solo homer in the sixth inning off Josh Lueke (0-2), who also gave up a run-scoring single to Teixeira and a sacrifice fly to Alfonso Soriano in a two-run seventh.
Tanaka (4-0) gave up solo homers to Desmond Jennings and Wil Myers, falling behind 3-0 by the fourth and looking shaky by the standard he set over his first five big league starts.
But the Yankees' offense bailed him out. Teixeira hit a two-run homer in the fourth, and Jacoby Ellsbury's RBI single in the fifth tied it at 3.
TWINS 6, ORIOLES 1
MINNEAPOLIS -- Joe Mauer and Brian Dozier both homered, Kevin Correia earned his first win of the season and the Minnesota Twins ended their four-game losing streak by beating the Baltimore Orioles, 6-1.
Mauer had three hits and four RBIs. His three-run shot off reliever Brad Brach in the seventh inning broke open the game.
Dozier's eighth homer, a solo shot off Wei-Yin Chen (3-2) in the third, gave the Twins the lead for good.
Correia (1-3) worked efficiently through Baltimore's lineup, allowing five hits in seven innings. He won for the first time since last Sept. 1, a span of nine starts.
MARINERS 9, ASTROS 8
HOUSTON -- Justin Smoak homered to cap an eight-run burst in the seventh inning, leading Hisashi Iwakuma and the Seattle Mariners over the Houston Astros, 9-8.
Patrick Henry grad Marc Krauss was 0-for-5 on the day for the Astros.
Four straight walks started the Mariners' big burst as they overcame a 2-1 deficit.
Iwakuma (1-0) made his first appearance after starting the season on the disabled list because of a sprained middle finger.
TIGERS 9, ROYALS 2
KANSAS CITY, Mo. -- Drew Smyly picked up where fellow Tigers starter Rick Porcello left off, tossing seven shutout innings and leading Detroit to a 9-2 rout of the Kansas City Royals on Saturday night.
Porcello and the Tigers bullpen retired the final 18 hitters in an 8-2 victory the previous night, and Smyly (2-1) retired the first four he faced. After a issuing a walk to Alex Gordon, the former reliever then retired the next six in a dominant performance.
Smyly wound up allowing two hits and two walks before giving way to Joba Chamberlain, who threw a perfect eighth. Phil Coke allowed two runs in the ninth to lose the shutout.
Nick Castellanos drove in three runs the Tigers, the first off spot starter Danny Duffy (1-2) and two more off the Royals' bullpen. That was it until the ninth, when Detroit tacked on six more runs, the highlight a three-run shot by Torii Hunter.
REDS 6, BREWERS 2
CINCINNATI -- Johnny Cueto gave up three hits over eight innings, including two solo homers, and singled home a run on Saturday night, leading the Cincinnati Reds to a 6-2 victory over the Milwaukee Brewers.
The Reds have won two of the first three in the series, leaving Milwaukee with a six-game lead in the NL Central.