Lester's solid outing results in no-decision

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Lester's solid outing results in no-decision

BOSTON -- Balls aren't finding gloves for Jon Lester at the moment.

The lefty allowed four runs (only two earned) in six-plus innings on Tuesday night, and he didn't factor into the decision in Boston's 8-6 extra-innings loss to the Baltimore Orioles at Fenway Park.

Afterwards, Lester said he felt pretty good, allowing eight hits and striking out five while walking one in 99 pitches. And after all, he did leave the game in the seventh inning with a 4-3 lead.

But after left-hander Endy Chavez led off the seventh with a single, and all righties at the top of the Baltimore order due up, Red Sox manager Bobby Valentine had his bullpen perfectly lined up to enter the game, with Lester having thrown nearly 100 pitches.

"Any time you come out of a game, it's tough," said Lester. "But our bullpen's been great. Just a little hiccup tonight. No big deal. Next time we're in that situation, they'll pick me up. That's the way baseball goes. Obviously I'm not worried about it."

Scott Atchison and Matt Albers came in and allowed three more runs to score. But Lester -- even still a game under .500 -- didn't seem too distraught. He knows his bullpen will be better the next time, and he felt good out there, personally.

An error to Mike Aviles in the third inning put runners on first and second with one out, and then a sacrifice fly put runners on first and third with two outs. The error proved to be costly because it gave the Orioles an extra out to work with, and they made Lester pay, as Adam Jones and Matt Wieters each singled to drive in two third-inning runs and put Baltimore up 2-0 early.

"I felt good," said Lester. "I feel like I threw the ball pretty well, with the exception of two balls, or really one: the triple in the first. And then, I don't really know how Wieters hit that ball in the third.

"The balls that aren't squared up for me aren't finding gloves right now. It's just part of baseball. You've just got to keep throwing, and hopefully it will turn around for me."

Valentine also thought Lester threw the ball well on Tuesday. It just didn't play out the way he had hoped.

"Jon battled too," said Valentine. "The first two runs, he thought he was out of the third inning I think with the ground ball. And they scored a couple, and then we tied it. And then he gave that one up in the sixth. And after he gave up a hit to Endy Chavez, I thought Lester had just had enough . . . Jon threw the ball pretty well."

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?