Lester gem once again ends in defeat

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Lester gem once again ends in defeat

TORONTO -- Jon Lester has pitched 15 innings this season and has allowed just one run, but finds himself with an 0-1 record and a no-decision.

That tough-luck mark is attributable to two things: Lester has drawn two of the American League's best pitchers (Justin Verlander and Ricky Romero) as opposing starters; and the fact that his teammates have given him virtually no run support.

On Opening Day, Lester battled Verlander nearly pitch-for-pitch, but the Sox were blanked until the ninth, by which time Lester was out of the game.

It was only marginally better Wednesday in the Red Sox' road trip finale. Lester allowed two runs in the third and another in the eighth, but got just a single run of backing from the Boston lineup.

"Jon was fnatastic,'' said Bobby Valentine. "Other than the last inning, there was only one inning (Toronto) got hits in.

"That's the nature of the beast when you go up against guys like (Verlander and Romero),'' said Lester. "I got outpitched again. That's plain and simple.''

For the first time this season, the Red Sox scored before their opponents on Wednesday, nicking Romero for a run on three singles in the top of the third.

But the Jays countered quickly with two runs of their own in the bottom of the inning. Rajai Davis tripled home Eric Thames and Yunel Escboar followed with a sacrifice fly.

"A couple of balls that I left up, they hit,'' recounted Lester, "and they ended up scoring some runs. You can't do that against guys like Romero and Verlander. It just makes it too
hard on our offense to give (the opponent) a lead and have our guys try to fight from behind.''

Both starters settled in after that, with Lester retiring the next 15 hitters in a row. When he buckled in the eighth on a two-out walk, a botched pickoff throw and a run-scoring
single from Escobar, the Jays had themselves an insurance run that they wouldn't even need.

"We're not playing well right now,'' concluded Lester. "The games we pitch well, we don't hit. And the games we don't pitch well, we hit. We haven't put it together right now.''

Red Sox celebration quickly washes away walk-off loss

Red Sox celebration quickly washes away walk-off loss

NEW YORK -- It had the potential to be the most awkward celebration ever.

In the top of the ninth inning at Yankee Stadium, before their game was complete, the Red Sox became American League East champions, by virtue of one other division rival -- Baltimore -- coming back to beat another -- Toronto -- in the ninth inning.

That eliminated the Blue Jays from the division race, and made the Sox division champs.

But that ninth inning reversal of fortune was about to visit the Red Sox, too.

Craig Kimbrel faced four hitters and allowed a single and three straight walks, leading to a run. When, after 28 pitches, he couldn't get an out, he was lifted for Joe Kelly, who recorded one out, then yielded a walk-off grand slam to Mark Teixeira.

The Yankees celebrated wildly on the field, while the Red Sox trudged into the dugout, beset with mixed emotions.

Yes, they had just lost a game that seemed theirs. But they also had accomplished something that had taken 158 games.

What to do?

The Sox decided to drown their temporary sorrows in champagne.

"As soon as we got in here,'' said Jackie Bradley Jr., "we quickly got over it.''

From the top of the eighth until the start of the bottom of the ninth, the Red Sox seemed headed in a conventional celebration.

A two-run, bases-loaded double by Mookie Betts and a wild pitch -- the latter enabling David Ortiz to slide into home and dislodge the ball from former teammate Tommy Layne's glove --- had given the Sox a 3-0 lead.

Koji Uehara worked around a walk to post a scoreless walk and after the top of the ninth, the Sox called on Craig Kimbrel, who had successfully closed out all but two save opportunities all season.

But Kimbrel quickly allowed a leadoff single to Brett Gardner and then began pitching as though he forgot how to throw strikes. Three straight walks resulted in a run in and the bases loaded.

Joe Kelly got an out, but then Teixeira, for the second time this week, produced a game-winning homer in the ninth. On Monday, he had homered in Toronto to turn a Blue Jays win into a loss, and now, here he was again.

It may have been a rather meaningless victory for the Yankees -- who remain barely alive for the wild card -- but it did prevent them the indignity of watching the Red Sox celebrate on their lawn.

Instead, the Sox wore the shame of the walk-off -- at least until they reached their clubhouse, where the partying began in earnest.

It had taken clubhouse attendants less than five minutes to cover the floor and lockers with plastic protective sheets. In a matter of a few more minutes, the air was filled with a mix of beer and bubbly.

President of baseball operations Dave Dombrowski wore a goggles and only socks on his feet.

As the spray reached every inch of the clubhouse, David Ortiz exclaimed: "I'm going to drown in this man.''

Defeat? What defeat?