Early trouble complicates things for Lester

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Early trouble complicates things for Lester

By Jessica Camerato
CSNNE.com Follow @JCameratoNBA

BOSTON -- Jon Lester doesnt want to over-complicate things at this point in the season, but thats exactly what got him in trouble on Saturday.

Lester gave up four earned runs in the Red Sox' 4-3 loss to the Tampa Bay Rays at Fenway Park. He struggled early on, and rather than sticking with what has gotten him to this point, he tried hard -- harder than he should have.

I wasnt making pitches, he said. First batter of the game, just had no rhythm, had no feel for anything, overthrowing a little bit. A couple of them, got ahead of a guy, trying to make a perfect pitch instead of just making a quality pitch like I had done previous to that. So just more or less getting myself into trouble.

Lester (15-8, 3.15 ERA) gave up a two-run home run to Ben Zobrist in the first inning. Desmond Jennings scored on a wild pitch in the third, and Evan Longoria drove in Brandon Guyer in the fifth.

Terry Francona noted Lester got himself into deep counts, and while he gave him credit for going seven innings, he still had problems with pitches.

He got us through seven, Francona said. I think it was pretty obvious he wasnt commanding like he can. It was a lot of deep counts.

"Hes so good and he competes so much though that he finds a way to get that deep in the game, but hes not hitting his spots as consistently as he usually does. Thats probably the best way I can put it.

Rather than overanalyze his performance, Lester kept it simple after the game, the way he wanted to on the mound.

I wouldnt do a fire sale here and say theyre the greatest team and Im the worst pitcher, he said. I think theyve done a good job the past two series against us, but it comes down to executing pitches and I didnt do that for the majority of today.

He added, You stick around and you give a team a chance to win, were going to be on the other side of those more times than not. So as far as that, I did my job. But . . . they pitched better than me, so thats kind of the story today.

Lester shared the same sentiments of many of his teammates -- hes not about to start panicking and reading too much into one game. The season may be winding down, but there are still plenty of games to be played.

This isnt our first go-around at this, he said. We have plenty of guys in that clubhouse that have been here, gone to the postseason, won a World Series, so this isnt like this is all new to everybody and were just trying to get through it. I dont think anybodys pressing.

I think its easier when youre coming from behind than where were at. I think thats probably the biggest thing is they have no pressure. Were the ones that need to play well and the past three nights I think we have. But they played better two out of three, so weve just got to keep grinding it out.

"Weve still got, 12, 13 (games) somewhere in there. Weve got a long ways to go still. Like I said, just keep grinding it out. Its clich but thats what it is. Thats the mindset of our clubhouse right now, just one pitch, one at-bat at a time.

Jessica Camerato is on Twitter at http:twitter.com!JCameratoNBA.

Moreland homers again, Red Sox tag A's to avoid four-game sweep

Moreland homers again, Red Sox tag A's to avoid four-game sweep

OAKLAND, Calif. - A five-run ninth inning for the Red Sox that lasted more than a half-hour derailed any chance Eduardo Rodriguez had of getting his first career complete game.

Not that the left-hander was complaining.

After a bitter loss to Oakland a year ago when he allowed just one hit over eight innings, Rodriguez was more than happy with the way things turned out.

Rodriguez earned his second straight win, Mitch Moreland homered in his third consecutive game and Boston beat the Oakland Athletics 12-3 on Sunday to avoid a four-game sweep.

"I wanted to go back out there but they hit the ball pretty good in that inning and I know I had to get out of the game," Rodriguez said about the long wait. "I'll take it because we score more runs, I have a chance to win. If every inning's like that, I'll get out of the game after five."

Rodriguez (3-1) allowed three runs over eight innings. He struck out eight, walked one and retired 14 of his final 15 batters.

"Where he was with the pitch count, it'd be nice for him to go out there for the ninth inning given where he was and how well he was throwing the baseball," Red Sox manager John Farrell said. "But at that point you're up nine, probably about a 35-minute inning, didn't want to take any chances."

Hanley Ramirez and Christian Vazquez had three hits apiece to power a Red Sox lineup that tallied 15 hits. Every player in Boston's starting lineup had at least one hit, and eight of the nine drove in runs.

Chad Pinder homered and drove in two runs for Oakland.

Boston, which hasn't been swept in a four-game series since July 2015, trailed 3-2 before scoring 10 runs over the final five innings.

"It felt we had them on the run a little bit," A's manager Bob Melvin said. "They get the lead and then we come back and take the lead again and you feel pretty good. But they were pretty persistent today."

Pinder went deep in the fourth, his fourth home run in eight games and fifth overall.

The A's committed three errors, giving them a major league-leading 42.

BRADLEY'S DEFENSIVE GEMS

Red Sox right fielder Mookie Betts gave the A's trouble with his running and defense. Betts scored twice from first base and also made a pair of strong defensive plays. He made a sliding catch on Mark Canha's sinking liner in the eighth and then slammed into the wall after catching Khris' Davis fly to end the inning.

"This place during the daytime plays very difficult," Farrell said. "What Mookie was able to do a couple times in right field, those aren't easy plays. To be able to stay with it, go up against the wall a couple of times, we played very good outfield defense here today."

TRAINER'S ROOM

Red Sox: Brock Holt continues to deal with lingering symptoms from vertigo and isn't yet ready to come off the disabled list, according to Farrell. Likewise, Boston plans to keep third baseman Pablo Sandoval in the minors to get consistent at-bats while recovering from a right knee sprain. ... Farrell said LHP Drew Pomeranz, who took the loss Saturday, will start against Texas on Thursday.

Athletics: Yonder Alonso (sore left knee) sat out his fourth straight game but could be back in the lineup Tuesday when Oakland begins a two-game series against Miami. ... Sean Doolittle (strained left shoulder) threw on flat ground before making 15 pitches off the mound. The plan is for the former closer to throw 25 pitches on Wednesday. ... Melvin said the team has applied for an extension on Chris Bassitt's rehab assignment. Bassitt underwent Tommy John surgery in 2015.

UP NEXT

Red Sox: Cy Young Award winner Rick Porcello (2-5) faces Texas on Tuesday in the opener of a three-game series at Fenway Park. Porcello has lost three of his last four decisions.

Athletics: Following an off day, RHP Jesse Hahn (1-3) starts against Miami on Tuesday at the Coliseum. Hahn leads the majors in fewest home runs allowed per nine innings at 0.19.