Lester solid, but two mistakes prove costly

Lester solid, but two mistakes prove costly
May 5, 2013, 8:45 pm
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ARLINGTON, Texas -- As befits his status as the Red Sox' No. 1 starter, Jon Lester had previously drawn CC Sabathia and David Price as opponents and beaten them both.
     
On Sunday, when he drew Yu Darvish, the results were different.
     
Neither Lester nor Darvish factored in the decision, but the Sox lost 4-3 to Texas, giving the Rangers a sweep of the three-game series.
     
Lester pitched six innings and allowed three runs on five hits. He was good, even if he wasn't as dominant as Darvish, who also gave up three over seven innings while striking out 14.
     
"I felt good," said Lester. "I felt like I had pretty good stuff. I made two mistakes; against a team like that, in this ballpark, you can't do that."
     
The two mistakes were both homers -- a solo shot to Mitch Moreland in the third, and then, more critically, a two-run homer to Nelson Cruz in the sixth, which erased what had been a 3-1 lead.
     
"(I wanted it) in," said Lester. "It was middle-up. The pitch to Moreland, so what, solo homer. But this team is built off momentum. They get a base knock (right before) by (Adrian) Beltre and they got a little bit of momentum going and I let them back in the count.
     
"He didn't try to do too much with it and put a good swing on it."
     
Even with Moreland's homer, Lester was efficient through the first three innings, needing just 35 pitches. But over the next three innings, the Rangers made him work and Lester threw 80 pitches from the fourth through the sixth.
     
"In the first three innings," recounted Lester, "it seemed like they were up there trying to ambush a little bit and we were able to keep the ball down and make some pitches. They hit a bunch of ground balls right at guys. After that, they bore down a little bit and tried to make me really be on the plate and made me throw a lot more pitches."
     
"They got a couple of hits that put him in the stretch," said catcher David Ross of Lester. "He wasn't as good today out of the stretch as he was out of the windup. All in all, thought, it was a really good outing. He threw the ball really well. He didn't make many mistakes and when he did, they capitalized on it."
     
Lester is now winless in his last three starts. But whereas he had command issues two starts ago against Oakland, walking six, and was hit around for six runs against Toronto last week, Sunday was better.
     
"I thought he was much improved over the last two," said John Farrell. "He threw his intended areas with much greater consistency. I thought he had one of the better changeups he's had all year. Two pitches got up in the strike zone (on the homers), but he battled (for) a solid six innings of work."
     
Ultimately, however, Lester had to deal with some frustration.
     
"The guys did a good job early on giving me that (3-0) lead," concluded Lester, "and I've got to do a better job minimizing the damage and I didn't do that in the sixth."