BOSTON -- Jon Lester has found a cure for his early-season struggles. Now if he could just get some run support.
Lester limited the Tampa Bay Rays to three runs over seven innings, but the Sox managed just two runs off David Price in a battle of ace lefties and dropped their ninth game in 11 tries, 3-2 to the Rays.
Lester has allowed three earned runs in his last 14 innings, but is 0-1 in those starts. The Red Sox lost both games, scoring just three runs in the two contests.
The Sox closed to within a run in the sixth when Dustin Pedroia doubled to center, took third on a groundout and scored on a double to right by Jed Lowrie.
But Lowrie was stranded and the Sox squandered another chance in the eighth when they couldn't cash in with runners on first and second and two out. For the game, the Sox were 1-for-7 with runners in scoring position; since Saturday, they are 7-for-52 in those situations.
Tampa Bay collected all three of its runs in the fifth when it loaded the bases against Lester. The first run crossed the plate when Adrian Gonzalez fielded a squibber by Sam Fuld, but couldn't grip the ball to make a timely throw to the plate as a run scored.
Johnny Damon, who knocked in two runs in Monday's rout, continued to haunt his old team with a two-run single to center.
The Red Sox scored first on a long solo homer to left by Darnell McDonald leading off the third.
Player of the Game: David Price
Price came into the game with an 0-2 mark and a 4.98 ERA, but Tuesday night he looked like the Cy Young Award contender that he was in 2010.
The lefty limited the Red Sox to just two runs on five hits in 7 23 innings. With his pitch count spiraling, Price was still able to throw his fastball in the mid-90s in his last few innings.
In career starts at Fenway, Price is now 2-0 with a 1.98 ERA. Perhaps more impressively, he's 17-4 with a 2.76 ERA in 27 games against opponents from the A.L. East.
Honorable Mention: Johnny Damon
On Monday night, Damon homered on the first pitch he saw and later added another run-scoring hit. Tuesday, he broke a 1-1 tie with a two-run single in the Rays' three-run fifth, delivering what proved to be the winning runs.
In two games against the Sox, Damon has five hits, or one more than he had in his previous 32 at-bats before this series began.
The Goat: Adrian Gonzalez
Gonzalez was hitless in four trips to the plate, stranding two runners. But the bigger issue was taking too long to get a throw to catcher Jason Varitek when he fielded a swinging bunt by Sam Fuld in the fifth. That allowed the tying run to score and paved the way for Tampa Bay's three-run inning.
The Turning Point
Damon's two-run single in the fifth broke up a 1-1 game and provided the winning margin for the Rays.
The Numbers: 2
For the fourth time in 11 games this season, the Red Sox failed to score more than two runs.
Quote of Note:
"We don't have a lot of wins ourselves. It's not about Jon; it's about us.'' -- Jason Varitek on Jon Lester's tough-luck 0-1 start despite a 3.72 ERA.