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John Lackey pitches three scoreless innings for Red Sox in win over Puerto Rico

Lackey pitched three scoreless innings in the Boston Red Sox’s 4-3 victory over Puerto Rico’s World Baseball Classic team on Tuesday night.

Making his third start since having right-elbow reconstruction surgery in November 2011, Lackey gave up three hits and struck out two without walking a batter. He did not pitch last season.

“I felt really good tonight,” Lackey said. “It was a really good day in the process. I feel like my arm strength’s getting better. Feel’s getting better each time out. So, happy with the direction we’re going.”

Lackey faced a lineup full of major leaguers, including Angel Pagan, Irving Falu, Alex Rios, Carlos Beltran, Yadier Molina and former teammate Mike Aviles.

“It was definitely an upgrade in competition from my last one,” Lackey said. “A lot of big leaguers, a lot of guys that’ll be starting in the league. So, yeah, it was fun.”

Red Sox manager John Farrell was pleased with Lackey’s outing.

“He was very good,” Farrell said. “He used all four of his pitches tonight, strikes with each one of them. With each additional outing he’s gone through, there’s increased arm strength. I thought he was real crisp tonight.”

The Red Sox took an early lead against Puerto Rico starter Nelson Figueroa on Will Middlebrooks’ solo home run in the second inning. Figueroa went three innings, giving up one run on two hits and a walk with two strikeouts.

“He did what we expected,” Puerto Rico manager Edwin Rodriguez said. “He is one of our best pitchers.”

Puerto Rico plays its first Classic game on Friday against Spain at San Juan, Puerto Rico.

Puerto Rico scored three runs in the fourth off Clayton Mortensen, who relieved Lackey. Mortensen, though, settled down, pitching two more scoreless innings.

Mike Napoli’s towering homer to left field in the fourth off Orlando Roman got a run back. In the fifth, back-to-back doubles by Ryan Lavarnway and Mitch Maier off Roman scored a run and Stephen Drew’s run-scoring single gave Boston the lead.

Andrew Bailey pitched a scoreless ninth, giving up two hits and striking out two.

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