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.

First impressions: Pomeranz is better, but Red Sox fall to Tigers

First impressions: Pomeranz is better, but Red Sox fall to Tigers

First impressions from the Red Sox' 4-2 loss to the Detroit Tigers:

 

1) The same problem remains for Joe Kelly

As a starter, no one doubted Kelly's fastball, and the velocity with which he threw it. But the problem was, Kelly's fastball was often quite straight, and most major league hitters can hit a fastball without movement, no matter how hard it's thrown.

In his first appearance as a reliever for the Red Sox, the same problem reared its head.

Kelly started off Justin Upton with a 99 mph fastball. After an 89 mph slider, Kelly next threw a 101 mph fastball.

But Upton drove it on a line to the triangle for a triple, and two batters later, trotted home on a soft flare to center by James McCann.

Velocity is one thing and can produce some swings-and-misses. But ultimately, Kelly is going to need more than straight gas to get hitters out.

 

2) Drew Pomeranz was miles better in his second start

Pomeranz failed to get an out in the fourth inning of his Red Sox debut and was charged with five runs.

So when Pomeranz -- who allowed just one hit through the first three innings Monday night -- allowed a leadoff single to Miguel Cabrera to start the fourth, there was uneasy sense of deja vu at Fenway.

But Pomeranz quickly erased Cabrera on a double play and through five innings had allowed just three hits and a walk.

He got into some trouble in the sixth when he allowed a one-out, two-run homer to Jose Iglesias, erasing what had been a 1-0 Red Sox lead.

But Pomeranz was far sharper than his first outing, threw his curveball for more strikes and kept the Tigers mostly off-balance. His line (6 IP; 4 H; 2 ER; 2 BB; 7 K) will be more than good enough on most nights.

Just not Monday night.

 

3) They may lead MLB in runs scored, but there are still nights when the Red Sox offense can frustrate

It happened last Friday when they loaded the bases with no out against the Twins - and failed to score in a 2-1 loss.

It was more of the same Monday night when the Sox loaded the bases in the ninth -- and managed just one run.

The problems weren't limited to the ninth, of course. The Sox put the leadoff man on in both the seventh and eighth innings -- and didn't score.

For the game, the Sox left 11 men on and were just 2-for-10 with runners in scoring position.

 

Tanguay: I would give up Mookie Betts for Chris Sale

Tanguay: I would give up Mookie Betts for Chris Sale

Gary Tanguay and Greg Dickerson debate whether they would include Mookie Betts in a trade to get Chris Sale, or if the Boston Red Sox are better with Betts staying despite needing help in their rotation.