Lester locks on too late in complete-game loss

Lester locks on too late in complete-game loss
August 31, 2012, 2:01 pm
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ANAHEIM -- Over the final five innings he pitched, Jon Lester allowed the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim just a single run.

Problem was, he had given up four in the first three frames and that proved too big of a head start for Lester and the Red Sox.

Lester notched his third complete game of the season, but this one, like the first one -- against Toronto on April 11 -- resulted in a loss.

The Angels needed just three batters to take a 2-0 lead in the first, then kept adding on in the early innings.

"After the third, I was able to get in a little bit more of a rhythm," said Lester, 8-11, "and we were able to slow them down a lot better. I threw a lot of curveball and a good many changeups (after the first few innings).

"You've got to minimize the damage early and I just didn't do that. If we come out of those three with just two runs, maybe it's a different ballgame."

Lester had difficulty commanding his curve early, and the Angels feasted on it, with two runs in the first, two in the third and another in the fourth.

"For whatever reason, one pitch was too fast, the next pitch was too slow," recounted Lester, who saw a personal three-game winning streak come to an end. "It was just kind of a constant battle, trying to get the feel for where I was at.

"It was a just a feel, feeling them out and it took us a little bit. It's kind of one of those deals where if I get into a better rhythm early on, maybe we're able to execute those pitches and get some early outs and I just didn't do that."

He eventually settled down. From the fifth through the eighth inning, Lester allowed just two baserunners -- a two-out walk to Chris Iannetta in the sixth and a two-out single to Mark Trumbo in the seventh.

By then, however, the damage was done and the Sox were swept for the second time in the last week.

"They just hit the ball and pitched better -- plain and simple," said Lester.