Lester coming around, although results don't show it

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Lester coming around, although results don't show it

BOSTON -- Jon Lester no longer wants to focus on the negative. He wants to take the positives out of an outing like the one he had on Tuesday night at Fenway Park.

The outcome wasn't positive. The Red Sox lost to the Texas Rangers, 6-3. Lester picked up his 10th loss of the season. He is now winless in his last seven starts. And with the latest loss, the Red Sox once again dip below .500.

But still, as much as it may pain some people to find any positives in that, Lester has been a much-improved pitcher in his last three outings. That's why, after allowing four runs on six hits and two walks, while striking out four and throwing 116 pitches in 6.2 innings, Lester is only going to focus on the positives.

"I can't keep talking about being frustrated, and all this stuff," said Lester after the loss. "I mean, it's like beating a dead horse. Everybody obviously knows here that we're frustrated, and we don't like losing. And we just keep -- like I said -- beating a dead horse. But there's positives for me, personally, in this game that I'm going to take. And go forward to the next one."

Despite the loss, Lester's stuff, especially through the first five innings was as good as it's been all season. The Rangers' four runs off Lester came in the sixth and seventh innings, and he left the game while only truly allowing three runs, but Mark Melancon came in to replace him in the seventh with two on and two out, and allowed an RBI single to Ian Kinsler to give Texas a 4-0 lead.

"He threw the ball really well," said Red Sox manager Bobby Valentine. "We could nit-pick it all we want, what the heck. He pitched pretty good."

"I think Lester pitched great. I mean, he had every pitch working tonight," said catcher Jarrod Saltalamacchia. "He kept people off his fastball away by throwing his cutter in. He just pitched an awesome game.

"His stuff was great all night," added Saltalamacchia. "The cutter was just back to where I remember it being. I haven't caught him his last two outings, so, getting back with him tonight, we both had a game plan, we stayed on it. I don't think one of those guys had a real comfortable at-bat with the way he was throwing tonight. Velocity was there, changeup was there, curveball had some really good, sharp bite. I was really happy and proud of him. I though he went out there and pitched a great game."

Lester's cutter -- down and inside to righties -- is devastating when it doesn't break coming out of his hand. It wasn't doing that on Tuesday night. Instead, it was coming out like a fastball, and darted away at the last moment. And with the command he had on top of that, Lester had his best stuff on Tuesday night, other than a few pitches that Kinsler, Josh Hamilton, and David Murphy got a hold of in the sixth and seventh innings.

"The past three starts, I've felt like I've thrown the ball better than I have all year," said Lester. "And I'm 0-2."

"I feel great, physically. I felt like we've made the right adjustments. The ball's down in the zone. I'm not giving up a bunch of hard-hit balls.

"I've got to look at the positives," added Lester. "I've got to keep looking at the positives. Three or four pitches, out of 116 pitches. That's a positive."

And Lester isn't the only one looking at the positives from his outing on Tuesday night.

"Just seeing where he's at right now, I can't be happier for him," said Saltalamacchia. "I know he didn't get the results he wanted, but, he's really, really heading towards the right direction.

"He's the Jon Lester that we all know, and want on the mound every single time out."

Improved Matt Barnes dealing with much more than mechanics

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Improved Matt Barnes dealing with much more than mechanics

BOSTON — Matt Barnes has been coping with more than just a few bad outings on the mound, and he’s asking for help.

The Red Sox set-up man made some mechanical corrections that paid off in the eighth inning Monday night, when he struck out all three Twins he faced in a 4-1 Red Sox win at Fenway Park.

“I just simplified the mechanics,” Barnes said afterward. “Two days ago, I was trying to get with more of an up, down, and out approach. I felt better in that outing. I know I gave up a run and walked the one guy, but I felt better around the zone. And then just kind of went into a slide step, doing what Andrew Miller was doing.”

Barnes allowed four runs spanning his previous three outings, retiring just four batters while walking five. But Barnes has had a lot more to worry about than just a brief professional rut. 

He’s been devoted to helping his girlfriend, Chelsea, through the unexpected loss of her father, who was diagnosed with cancer and suffered a stroke

"Her father passed away [May 27]. That’s why I wasn’t in Baltimore for the two days [in early June], I was at his funeral,” Barnes said. "It’s tough, dealing with that, and she’s obviously having a hard time with it. She’s got her good days and her bad days. But it’s not easy. He was sick for a little while, and unexpectedly passed a lot faster than anybody ever expected him to. So, it’s been tough. She’s been alright, considering.”

There are a ton of medical bills still to be paid. A fundraising page has been set up to help the family with some large medical bills, and Barnes has asked on Twitter for people to spread the word if they’re able to.

“I’ve been able to spend a lot of time with her which is nice,” Barnes said of his girlfriend. “Everybody who’s helped out with donations and spreading the page, I couldn’t be more grateful, and she couldn’t be more grateful.”

Barnes is a big leaguer, but he’s still young and making the major league minimum. For every $1,000 total donated, Barnes plans to send a signed baseball to a random donor.

“I felt like it was a nice way, if they’re going to help me out, I can at least do that in return for them,” Barnes said.

Sale gets 9 Ks, Moreland hits home run as Red Sox beat Twins, 4-1

Sale gets 9 Ks, Moreland hits home run as Red Sox beat Twins, 4-1

BOSTON -- The way Chris Sale and the Boston relievers were pitching, the Red Sox didn't need to score a lot.

Sale went 6 1/3 overpowering innings with nine strikeouts, Mitch Moreland hit a solo homer for the third straight game and the Red Sox beat the Minnesota Twins 4-1 on Monday in a matchup of two of the AL's top teams.

"When you've got him on the mound, all you need is a couple and he's going to do the rest," Moreland said. "Obviously, tonight was another example of that."

Dustin Pedroia had two hits and drove in a run and Moreland added a sacrifice fly for Boston, which kept pace with the New York Yankees atop the East.

The Red Sox started fast, grabbing a 2-0 lead just four batters into the first.

"When the guys score early for you, it's nice," Sale said. "It settles you down a little bit and allows you to throw strikes."

Coming off a three-game sweep in Cleveland that had jumped them over the Indians into first in the Central, the Twins' offense was stymied by Sale and three relievers. The loss coupled with Cleveland's win over Texas moved the Indians back a half-game ahead.

Sale (10-3) gave up one run and four hits, increasing his major-league strikeout total to 155. Craig Kimbrel pitched the ninth for his 21st save after Matt Barnes struck out three in the eighth. Heath Hembree faced one batter, getting a double play.

The 6-foot-6 Sale relied on his usual sharp-breaking slider and fastball in the mid-to-upper 90s to fan eight over the first six innings, getting the initial half dozen with his breaking pitch.

"It's what we've seen many times. He had a nice mix," Twins manager Paul Molitor said. "I think the biggest trouble we had was with that slider, especially down and in to righties."

Jose Berrios (7-2) allowed four runs and eight hits in 6 1/3 innings. Chris Gimenez had a solo homer for Minnesota.

"When you go against a guy like Chris Sale, you try to give 110 percent," Berrios said through a translator.

Boston jumped ahead when Moreland homered into the first row of Green Monster seats after the first run scored on a double-play grounder.

Berrios had given up just two runs in each of his previous four starts, and six of eight since being promoted on May 7.

Gimenez's homer completely left Fenway Park over the Monster.

TRAINER'S ROOM

Twins: Molitor said RHP Phil Hughes, on the 10-day disabled list since late May with biceps tenderness, "felt good" but the pitcher had hoped his velocity would be a bit higher. ... LHP Glen Perkins, on the DL with a shoulder strain, is expected to resume throwing again Tuesday after a setback about a week ago.

Red Sox: DH Hanley Ramirez was out with a sore left knee after getting hit by a pitch Sunday. ... 3B Pablo Sandoval, on the 10-day DL since June 20 with a left inner-ear infection, is slated to start a rehab stint with Triple-A Pawtucket on Tuesday. Manager John Farrell said there's no planned date for his return. ... Moreland fouled a ball that bounced and hit near his right eye.

NICE START, KID

Red Sox 3B Tzu-Wei Lin singled to right in his first major-league at-bat and first career start.

The 23-year-old from Taiwan played third on his country's national teams in 2009 and 2010. He's the second Taiwanese-born player to make Boston's major-league roster. Outfielder Che-Hsuan Lin was the other, in 2012.

RUNNING AROUND

Twins LF Eddie Rosario made three nice running, over-the-shoulder catches.

WELCOME ABOARD

Infielder Jhonny Peralta reported to Triple-A Pawtucket on Monday. Boston signed him to a minor-league deal after he was released by St. Louis earlier this month.

The plan is to alternate him at third and DH with Sandoval.

ROSTER MOVE

The Twins sent RHP Dillon Gee back to Triple-A to make room for Tuesday's starter LHP Hector Santiago.

UP NEXT

Twins: Santiago (4-6, 5.26 ERA) will be activated off the DL Tuesday. He's been sidelined since June 7 with a strained left shoulder.

Red Sox: LHP Drew Pomeranz (6-4, 4.07) looks to snap a three-start winless stretch.