BOSTON -- Following Friday night's 4-2 loss to the Baltimore Orioles, Bobby Valentine said he'd "die" with Jon Lester every time he's on the mound.
One of the major problems for the Red Sox this season has been that -- far too often -- they can't survive when Lester has the ball.
That was once again the case on Friday, as Lester allowed four runs on eight hits and three walks while striking out three in seven innings of work.
It marks Lester's 13th loss of the season, and his first-career loss to the Orioles, in 21 starts against the club.
"It was bound to happen sometime," said Lester afterwards. "They're playing good this year. They've always had a good offense. They're just putting everything else together."
The Orioles find themselves in a serious playoff race. The Red Sox find themselves searching for answers, just waiting for the nightmarish season to end. It's a complete role-reversal for September baseball at Fenway, with Baltimore in town.
And even though Lester has been an improved pitcher in the last month-and-a-half, it still hasn't been good enough.
"There wasn't anything that bad. Jon was good, actually, tonight," said Valentine after he loss. "Wieters hit a couple balls, one down the right-field line, one down the left-field line that barely stayed fair.
"His pitches were crisp, he battled the whole way. We got a one-run lead for him, and then tied it up. We just couldn't get that inning to get guys back in the dugout and maybe feel good about ourselves."
Matt Wieters drove in Baltimore's first-three runs of the game. He then came across the plate for the fourth. Both of Wieters' hits were down the line, with the second being the game-winner, just barely staying fair down the left-field line in the sixth inning, driving in one, and giving the Orioles a 3-2 lead.
"He did a good job of sticking his nose on one, and hitting it down the line," said Lester. "And then he turned on one."
When asked what his goal will be for the rest of this season, Lester said, "Pitch, just pitch. Every time I go out there, I learn something about myself, and about the other team. And the adjustments that we had to make after the All-Star break, to continue to work on those.
"I'll just try to pitch as many innings as I can. It's all I can control, and go out there and try to keep the team in the game."
And Valentine doesn't believe next season will be as bad a year for the lefty.
"If he pitches like that . . . he's going to win a lot of games," said Valentine. "He'll be up there in wins.
"And again, balls are going to get hit at people more in the future, I think. And if he stays healthy, he's a very good pitcher. I'd die with him every time he's out there."