Red Sox fans probably have found it easy to forget that John Lackey once won the deciding game of a World Series, made the All-Star Game, and led the American League in earned run average.

Some of the games he pitched earlier this season may not indicate it, but the Sox did not sign him to a lucrative free agent contract on a whim.

So while many may have viewed yesterday's game pitting Lackey against Yankees ace CC Sabathia as a mismatch, he certainly did not.

"I've won some pretty big games,'' Lackey said.

The righthander proved his point, going six effective innings in a 10-4 victory. Lackey (10-8) allowed three runs on six hits, keeping the Yankees down enough for the Red Sox to go to work on Sabathia.

"Lackey did a great job and gave us a chance to win. Six innings and three runs, that's all you can ask for,'' Adrian Gonzalez said.

Lackey needed 115 pitches to get through his outing. But he did enough.

"I squeezed about 10 games worth of pitches into about six innings,'' Lackey said, laughing. "They make you grind. They're a lot like our lineup. You can't make mistakes. It's a thin line. You want to throw strikes but you can't throw just any kind of strike.''

After a horrid start, Lackey is 5-1 with a 3.58 ERA in his last six starts and is looking like a pitcher worthy of starting the third or fourth game of a playoff series.