Lester, Sox falter down the stretch, lose to Rangers, 6-3

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Lester, Sox falter down the stretch, lose to Rangers, 6-3

BOSTON Jon Lester cruised through the first five innings with relative ease, allowing no runs on just two hits. But, 29 pitches to 6 batters in the sixth, cost him two runs, on the way to a 6-3 Red Sox loss to the Rangers Tuesday night at Fenway Park.

The loss drops the Sox back under .500, at 55-56.

Lester took the loss, falling to 5-10 with an ERA of 5.36. went 6 23 innings, giving up four runs on six hits, two walks, and a wild pitch, with four strikeouts. The Sox are now 8-15 in his 23 starts, of which he has posted 11 quality starts.

David Murphy, the former Sox minor leaguer who was packaged in a trade for right-hander Eric Gagne at the trading deadline in 2007, lead off the seventh with a double to right, scoring on Ian Kinslers one-out single high off the wall in left that barely missed becoming a home run. With two outs, Kinsler scored on Hamiltons single to right, giving the Rangers a 2-0 advantage.

The Rangers added two more in the seventh when Michael Young walked with one out, going to third on Geovanny Sotos single to right and scoring on Murphys sacrifice fly. After a walk to No. 9 batter Mike Olt, Lester was done.

Mark Melancon entered, giving up a single to Kinsler, scoring Soto, for a 4-0 Texas lead.

Meanwhile, Rangers right-hander Ryan Dempster, who struggled in his first start with Texas since being acquired at the trading deadline from the Cubs, kept the Red Sox batters in check until the seventh inning. He went, 6 23 innings, giving up three runs, no earned runs, on six hits, one walk, and a home run, with six strikeouts.

Will Middlebrooks finally broke through on Dempster with a pinch-hit three-run home run in the seventh. With Jarrod Saltalamacchia and Ryan Kalish on base, Middlebrooks, pinch-hitting for Nick Punto, took the first pitch he saw from Dempster, an 85-mph slider. and drove it into the first row of Monster seats. The home run withstood a review by umpires when it appeared a fan had reached over. It was Middlebrooks 14th home run of the season, first as a pinch-hitter, and the Sox fourth from a pinch-hitter this season.

Thanks to a Kinsler error on Kalishs grounder earlier in the inning all the runs off Dempster were unearned.

Dempster had faced the Sox once before, June 15 in Chicago, while with the Cubs. In that game he went seven shutout innings, allowing five hits and two walks with three strikeouts, earning the win. In the two starts, combined he threw 13.2 scoreless innings against the Sox.

The Rangers added a run in the eighth off Melancon. Josh Hamilton walked to open the inning, going to second on Adrian Beltres groundout, scoring on Nelson Cruzs single to right, giving the Rangers a 5-3 lead.

The Rangers got a run in the ninth off Craig Breslow and Junichi Tazawa. Breslow hit Murphy with a pitch to open the inning. Craig Gentry, pinch running, stole second and scored and Elvis Andrus single of Tazawa, putting the Rangers up, 6-3.

After getting called out in the eighth inning for a check swing, Dustin Pedroia was ejected in the top of the ninth for arguing with first base umpire Paul Nauert. It was Pedroias second career ejection, first since Aug. 19, 2008, in Baltimore.

Quotes, notes and stars: Donaldson dominates Kelly

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Quotes, notes and stars: Donaldson dominates Kelly

Quotes, notes and stars from the Red Sox’ 7-5 loss to the Blue Jays:

 

QUOTES

 

* “He had quality stuff, but the story of this one is not being able to contain (Josh) Donaldson. Big night for him . . . I though Joe had quality stuff . . . [He] wasn’t as sharp with the overall location as he was the first time out for us.” John Farrell on Joe Kelly’s second start since his return from the disabled list.

 

* “He’s such a good player and does it in critical moments.” Farrell on Josh Donaldson after his two-homerun, 4-5 performance for Toronto.

 

* “He throws hard and has a lot of sink on his ball. Not much you can do with it. Just try to put it in play and see what happens.” Xander Bogaerts on facing Toronto’s start Aaron Sanchez.

 

* “Bottom line is the results. I think there’s been a strong precedent set with that,” Farrell before the game on moving Clay Buchholz to the bullpen to make room for Eduardo Rodriguez.

 

 

NOTES

 

* Following Friday night’s performance, Josh Donaldson is now 12-20 in his career against Joe Kelly with a double, two home runs and nine RBIs.

 

* The Red Sox’ five runs brings their season total to 38 on the road, averaging 3.8 per game through ten road games. At home, Boston has averaged 7.8 runs through 18 games.

 

* Despite a rough start, Joe Kelly still didn’t record a loss. He hasn’t been on the wrong side of a decision since 7/22/15.

 

* Xander Bogaerts extended his streak to 20 games in his second at-bat against Aaron Sanchez. Boston’s shortstop now has the longest active streak in the league.

 

 

STARS

 

1) Josh Donaldson

Toronto’s third baseman dominated not only Joe Kelly, but Koji Uehara, launching two balls over the fence in a 4-5 day.

 

2) Aaron Sanchez

Although he got tired late, Toronto’s starter only had three earned runs through 6.2 innings against one of the most potent offenses in the league.

 

3) Xander Bogaerts

After teammate Jackie Bradley, Jr. saw his streak die Thursday night, Bogaerts squeaked one up the middle, bringing his streak to 20 games, against a starter who’s caused problems for him before.

First Impressions: Kelly’s setback unsettling

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First Impressions: Kelly’s setback unsettling

First impressions of Red Sox 7-5 loss to Toronto:

 

Joe Kelly still has to prove he can be trusted to start for the Red Sox.

With the demotion of Clay Buchholz to the bullpen after Kelly’s lockdown start in his return from the DL, Kelly went back to his old ways.

After mixing pitches well in his first outing, Kelly threw 94 pitches -- 70 fastballs -- in 4.2 innings. In his previous start, he threw 66 fastballs over 104 pitches.

That approach won’t fly, especially if his fastball command is as subpar as it was against Toronto.

The Blue Jays’ batters seemed very comfortable in the box, despite Kelly throwing as hard as he does with so much movement. That can’t become the norm for opposing hitters.

 

The Red Sox offense can handle any starting pitcher -- but they can’t do it alone.

After Jon Gray shut down Boston in the final game of the Colorado series, Red Sox hitters faced a familiar foe that had already had success against them earlier in the year in Aaron Sanchez.

Despite using his curveball much more than his start earlier in the season, Boston’s hitters made adjustments. He did hold them down for much of the early going, but Red Sox hitters still scraped out four runs in his seven innings.

But the pitching staff didn’t hold up it’s end, essentially letting Josh Donaldson beat Boston by himself.

 

Xander Bogaerts made sure Sanchez didn’t ruin the streak.

Now hitting safely through 20 games, Bogaerts extended his streak against the starter who had him baffled when they faced off earlier in the year. The biggest difference from their last matchups was Bogaerts put good swings in against Sanchez mistakes -- and he didn’t appear off-balance after every swing.

 

Matt Barnes will not be Carson Smith’s replacement in 2016.

Despite his upper 90s fastball and 12-6 curveball, Barnes still can’t put together dominant appearances. His lack of command -- with a straight fastball -- is the big reason. Boston will have to look elsewhere -- internally or from another organization -- to give the bullpen another reliable set-up man given Koji Uehara’s age and durability.

 

The baseball gods are on Boston’s side -- for now.

As if Jose Bautista sitting out after appealing an earlier suspension wasn’t enough, the Red Sox scored their first run without a hit. Then the red Sox tied the game in the eighth on an error, after Dustin Pedroia had reach on a double that landed because Michael Saunders and Kevin Pillar had a communication breakdown.

Rodriguez to start Tuesday, Buchholz to bullpen

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Rodriguez to start Tuesday, Buchholz to bullpen

As expected, Eduardo Rodriguez will start for the Red Sox on Tuesday in Baltimore and Clay Buchholz will go to the bullpen, manager John Farrell told reporters in Toronto.

The move became apparent after Buchholz (2-5, 6.35 ERA) struggled again Thursday night, allowing three two-run home runs in an 8-2 loss to the Rockies.

Rodriguez, who hurt his knee in spring training, has yet to pitch for the Red Sox this season. The left-hander, who was 10-6 with a 3.85 ERA as a rookie last season,  made three rehab starts at Triple-A Pawtucket. 

"The bottom line is the results, and there's been a strong precedent set with that," Farrell said of Buchholz in annoucning the move.