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.
This pickup game had slightly more star power than what went on at your local YMCA today.