BOSTON -- This has been a lost season for Jon Lester as much as it has for anyone in a Red Sox uniform. The left-hander took the loss Wednesday night in the home finale against the Rays, 4-2.Lester went six innings giving up three runs on four hits and walk with five strikeouts. It was his team-leading 17th quality start of the season. With a one-run lead, he did not allow a hit until there was one out in the fifth inning, a single to Jeff Keppinger. He quickly lost the lead, giving up back-to-back home runs to Carlos Pena, the next batter, and Ben Francisco.Lester fell to 9-14 with a 4.94 ERA. This is his first losing season in his seven-year career.I said before the game he was on the bottom of his tank but he pitched great, said manager Bobby Valentine. Who would have thunk it would be Carlos Pena against left-handers that beat us but I guess thats the way this seasons been going. He made really good pitches the whole night. The 2-1 pitch to Pena might have been in the sweet spot but he grounds out to second on the pitch a lot too. Gave us six innings, four hits, with a little more offense we might have been able to get him a win.Lester has lost each of his last three starts and has not won since Sept. 4 at Seattle, four starts ago.My stuff didn't change, said Lester, who had been under the weather going into the game. Had good stuff through the whole game, but yeah, two pitches.In his career, Pena, a left-handed hitter, is hitting just .206 against left-handed pitchers. But against Lester, he entered the game hitting .267, going 12-for-45. He has seven home runs off Lester.If I knew it wouldnt be that way, Lester said. Everybody has that guy. Im pretty good against other guys and hes pretty good against me.Valentine mentioned before the game he thought Lester was reaching the bottom of his tank. Lester made his 32nd start Wednesday, one behind his career high in 2008. Catcher Jarrod Saltalamacchia checked with the lefty after the fifth inning.Yeah, he was getting real tired, said catcher Jarrod Saltalamacchia. I asked him if he was okay. You could tell just by his answer he was getting real tired. But he went back out there that next inning and pitched a scoreless inning. Just did a great job, just battled his butt off. Thats what hes done for us all year.Im down in the tank because I was sick, he said. Still taking the ball, still grinding it out. Ive just been under the weather for the past couple of days and that fifth inning kind of took a lot out of me and I didn't think it was fair for me to go back out there when I didnt have anything. I just went ahead and told him that.I felt fine through the whole game. When I got done through that sixth it kind of just hit me. Legs felt tired, body felt tired from being sick. As far as starting off good and being powerful, felt like I had a good fastball, good cutter early on. I had to, I keep saying, buying into what weve been working on and my stuff has gotten better, Ive gotten more consistent, just always comes down to just two pitches, three pitches a game that end up costing me the game.I felt like I threw the hell out of the ball tonight. The Pena ball I wouldnt take back. Wanted it down and away and it was down and away.Lester will have one more start this season, in New York on Tuesday. He cant salvage a winning record, but he can salvage a strong outing to take into the offseason.It would be nice, he said with a laugh. Would be great, but like I said before Im trying to forget about stats, Im trying to forget about wins and losses and ERA and just show my teammates that hey I can take the ball every five days and Im going to compete my butt off and at the end of it if we win we win, if we lose we lose. Im going to do everything I can to control what I can and its all I can do. Just keep taking the ball.
BOSTON -- Quotes, Notes and Stars from the Red Sox' 4-3 loss to the Tigers on Wednesday.
"For maybe the first time when he hasn't put the ball on the ground consistently, that's the one spot that shows up here today.''
-- John Farrell on Brad Ziegler, who gave up the game-winning homer to Miguel Cabrera in the ninth inning.
"Unfortunately, we're one-swing-of-the-bat difference here today.''
"It wasn't a horrible pitch; it just wasn't a great one either.''
-- Zieger on the pitch to Cabrera.
"Shoot, I've got to be honest. I haven't even looked at the schedule. I know there's 162 [games] on there. That's about all I know.''
-- Dustin Pedroia, when asked about the team's upcoming string of road games.
-- The Red Sox dropped to 11-14 against teams from the American League Central.
-- The series sweep was the first of the season suffered by the Red Sox. Every other MLB team had already been swept more than once.
-- Pedroia has reached base safely in 30 straight games. It's the second-longest streak of his career.
-- Xander Bogaerts hit safely in every game on the homestand, batting .447 in that span.
-- Seven of Sandy Leon's 10 doubles this season have come in day games.
-- Aaron Hill collected his first extra-base hit (double) as a member of the Red Sox.
-- Victor Martinez reached base in all five plate appearances, becoming the first Tiger to do so at Fenway since Pudge Rodriguez in 2008.
-- The Tigers are 7-2 in their last nine Fenway games.
-- Opposing hitters had been just 1-for-22 against Brad Ziegler as a member of the Red Sox before Cabrera's homer.
1) Miguel Cabrera -- He was 3-for-4 with an intentional walk, including the game-winning homer in the top of the ninth.
2) Victor Martinez -- He remains one of the game's best pure hitters, which he demonstrated with four hits and two RBI.
3) Michael Fulmer -- He continued his Rookie of the Year case with 7 2/3 strong innings, allowing three runs on seven hits.
BOSTON -- First impressions from the Red Sox' 4-3 loss to Detroit on Wednesday afternoon:
1) Eduardo Rodriguez pitched pretty well, but not well -- or deep -- enough.
Rodriguez has now made three starts since coming back from Pawtucket and any one of them was better than his starts from earlier this year.
He's no longer tipping his pitches, he's commanding better in general and his fastball has been more powerful.
But he's also giving up a lot of hits (19 in 18 innings) and he's gotten through the sixth inning just once in his three outings. For a team short in its bullpen, that's leaving a big workload for the relievers.
2) The late-inning comebacks have been in short supply.
Yes, the Red Sox have scored runs by the boatload at times. And yes, they've mostly played hard this season.
But before Wednesday, the Sox had been just 3-35 when trailing after seven innings and they had enjoyed only two walkoff wins all season.
Those numbers can be misleading, of course. Teams can dig out from early holes -- as the Red Sox did Tuesday night.
But the ninth-inning rallies haven't happened much. In fact, on the current home stand, the Sox have had the top-to-middle part of the order up in the bottom of the ninth -- with David Ortiz getting an at-bat each time -- on four separate occasions, trailing by a run or two, and couldn't produce a winning rally.
3) Clay Buchholz may be pitching himself out of the doghouse
After going weeks -- literally --between appearances, Buchholz has been called upon four times in the last seven games.
Granted, in most of those games, the Red Sox have been trailing. But the games were such that they were still within reach, contradicting John Farrell's remarks late last week when he broadly hinted that he didn't trust Buchholz in games that were close.
Slowly, however, Buchholz could be earning some trust coming out of the bullpen. He had a perfect inning Wednesday with the Sox trailing by a run at the time.
BOSTON -- The Red Sox send Eduardo Rodriguez to the mound as they attempt to salvage the final game of their homestand and avoid a sweep at the hands of the Tigers.
Ian Kinsler 2B
Jose Iglesias SS
Miguel Cabrera 1B
Victor Martinez DH
Nick Castellanos 3B
Justin Upton LF
Mike Aviles RF
James McCann C
Tyler Collins CF
Michael Fullmer P
Mookie Betts RF
Dustin Pedroia 2B
Xander Bogaerts SS
David Ortiz DH
Jackie Bradley Jr. CF
Aaron Hill 3B
Travis Shaw 1B
Sandy Leon C
Brock Holt LF
Eduardo Rodriguez P