Lester to meet Mariners in finale

Lester to start on the field of his dreams

It wasn't all that long ago that Jon Lester was just another resident of Tacoma, Wash., who happened to idolize Ken Griffey Jr. and the Seattle Mariners. Griffey is as long gone from Seattle as the tape-measure home runs he used to hit in the Kingdome, but the Mariners and Safeco Field will be front and center for Lester on Sunday, as he tries to make his hometown team the latest victim in his strong rookie season.

Lester (5-0) is unbeaten in his first eight Major League starts and is coming off his best performance yet, when he fired eight innings of one-hit baseball in a 1-0 victory over the Royals.

"It'll be obviously nerve-wracking to be in front of the family and friends," Lester said. "But at the same time, it's just another start. I just have to look at it that way. The side stuff is going to be fun. It should be a good experience."

The Red Sox are relying on Lester to pull out the rubber match of this three-game series over the Mariners.

This will not be the first time Lester, a high school star for Bellarmine Prep School in Tacoma, has pitched at Safeco.

"It was either going into my senior year in high school or my senior summer. I played for [an area] team. We had a game up here in the fall," said Lester. "So it might have been going into my senior year."

"Going through the [2002 First-Year Player Draft], I wanted to be a Mariner," said Lester, who was instead nabbed by the Sox with pick No. 57. "I came up here for a predraft workout. I think they were interested. I just don't think they were interested in the round that I wanted to be picked in, and they had other plans for that pick. It's a business, and they had to do what they had to do."

Now, Lester will go about the business of trying to stifle the team he used to worship.

Pitching matchup
BOS: LHP Jon Lester (5-0, 2.38)
Lester heads to the mound after posting the most impressive performance of his young career. The 22-year-old lefty allowed just one hit over eight innings against Kansas City on Tuesday night, striking out four in the process. He did walk four, but he remained unbeaten in eight big-league starts.

SEA: LHP Jarrod Washburn (4-10, 4.41)
Washburn was hurt by a fielding error in his last start on Monday against the Yankees, as Richie Sexson's boot allowed three unearned runs to score in a loss to New York. Aside from the error, Washburn did what he always does -- induce fly balls (eight). All told, Washburn allowed one earned run in 6 1/3 innings.

Player to watch
Sunday could be a good day for Sox center fielder Coco Crisp to bust out. He is 8-for-15 lifetime against Washburn, with three doubles and a homer.

On the Internet
 Gameday Audio
•  Gameday
•  Official game notes

On television

On radio
• WEEI 850 AM, WROL 950 AM (Español)

Up next
• Monday: Red Sox (RHP Josh Beckett, 12-5, 4.78) at Athletics (LHP Barry Zito, 10-6, 3.20), 10:05 p.m. ET
• Tuesday: Red Sox (RHP Curt Schilling, 12-3, 3.50) at Athletics (RHP Jason Windsor, 0-0, 1.80), 10:05 p.m. ET
• Wednesday: Red Sox (RHP Kyle Snyder, 2-1, 7.02) at Athletics (RHP Dan Haren, 6-9, 4.02), 3:35 p.m. ET

Ian Browne is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.