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Triumphant return for Red Sox's Lester

July 24, 2007|From the Associated Press

CLEVELAND — On Monday night, Jon Lester crowned a courageous comeback from cancer with a victory.

The young pitcher, whose rookie season ended suddenly when he was diagnosed with a treatable form of lymphoma, pitched six innings to lead the Red Sox to a 6-2 win over the Cleveland Indians.

"I figured the day would come," Lester said. "I just didn't know when. It's just nice to be back."

Lester gave up two runs and five hits to easily handle the Indians, the team with the AL's best home record.

"It was supposed to be his night," Red Sox Manager Terry Francona said. "He just really competes."

The 23-year-old left-hander had been in the midst of a stellar first season when a visit to the doctor for back pain resulted in a startling find that threatened his life.

Lester was diagnosed with anaplastic large cell lymphoma just days after he improved to 7-2 with a win over the Angels on Aug. 23.

Over the next months, Lester would undergo six chemotherapy sessions that eventually eradicated the disease. He was declared cancer-free by doctors in December but must still have periodic checkups to make sure the disease hasn't returned.

"I'm just trying to put it behind me and move on and just go back to pitching and not worry about things," he said. "But right now every three months I have to go back and get that reality check."

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