Lester done in by White Sox once again

Lester done in by White Sox once again
May 21, 2013, 12:30 am
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CHICAGO – Jon Lester needed just nine pitches to retire the first two White Sox batters he faced Monday night. He got Alejandro De Aza to pop out to shortstop Stephen Drew and struck out Alexei Ramirez swinging on a changeup, the pitch that has served Lester so well this season.
It appeared the left-hander was picking up where he had left off in recent outings. In his previous three starts, Lester had gone 2-0 with a 2.05 ERA, giving up five runs over 22 innings.
Instead, the game began to quickly unravel for Lester after that.
He gave up a single to Alex Rios, the next batter, before walking Paul Konerko, bringing up Adam Dunn, who was hitting just .169. But in previous six games Dunn was hitting .364, going 8-for-22, with four home runs.
Dunn added to that total, with a blast to right field for his 11th home run of the season.
The White Sox added to their run total in the second when No. 9 hitter Tyler Greene, De Aza, and Ramirez connected for three straight doubles, scoring two runs.
Chicago added a run in the fifth. Ramirez led off by reaching on Will Middlebrooks’ error, and Rios walked before being erased when Konerko grounded into a double play. After a walk to Dunn, Dayan Viciedo’s single scored Ramirez for an unearned run.
Lester took his first loss of the season, falling to 6-1 in 10 starts, as the Red Sox fell to the White Sox, 6-4. He went six innings, giving up seven hits, matching season highs with six runs and five earned runs, along with three walks, two strikeouts, and a home run. He threw 109 pitches, 70 strikes, as his ERA rose from 2.72 to 3.15. All the runs he allowed came with two outs.
“It was a night where he had to battle,” said manager John Farrell. “He gets the two quick outs in the first inning and then after the base hit and the walk it was a 2-[and]-0 cutter that stayed in the middle of the plate to Dunn, who’s been swinging the bat well of late. So we find ourselves down 3-0.
“And then they bunch some hits the other way [in the second]. All their runs with two outs tonight, and maybe just that third strike in a couple of cases was a little elusive for him.”
“He missed location on a couple but, all in all, they didn’t miss any of the fastballs,” said catcher Jarrod Saltalamacchia. “Every time we threw a fastball they seemed to hit it down the line or put it in play. But when we threw off-speed pitches he kept them off balance, he threw great. So I think it’s really just a matter of the one pitch to Dunn. You take [away] that one at-bat and we’re still in it.”
But, unfortunately for the Red Sox, that’s not the way it works.
Although it was just the first inning, Lester’s pitch to Dunn virtually decided the ballgame.
“I felt like I threw the ball OK for the most part with the exception of the pitch to Dunn,” Lester said. “The inning, really, just a two-out hit and then I got to do a better job with Paulie there, just not walking him, giving [Dunn] a chance to bat in that inning. Just didn’t do a good job either and ended up leaving the guy that’s got stupid pop a cutter down the middle and he did what he was supposed to with it.
“But after that, I felt like we made some adjustments. The second inning I felt like I threw the ball better, just they did a good job of staying with the ball and driving it the other way for a couple of those doubles. With the exception of the first [inning], felt like I battled. It was just kind of one of those nights, just a battle.”
Perhaps the results shouldn’t be a surprise, despite Lester’s early success this season. In nine career starts against the White Sox, he has posted his highest ERA against any American League team, at 5.43, giving up 37 earned runs over 61 1/3 innings.
It’s tough for Lester to explain those kinds of numbers.
“I don’t know,” he said. “I don’t know.  Just one of those teams. You have those teams, that they have good offenses and you do really well against them, for whatever reason. And then you have teams that – Chicago, for some reason, I don’t feel like I’ve ever pitched well here, for whatever reason. It is what it is. It always goes back down to executing pitches at the right time, and I didn’t execute the pitch in the first inning. That changed the whole momentum of the game.”
And it changed his perfect start to the season.
“Well, it was bound to happen sometime,” he said. “But it is what it is. Move on.”