Lester, Sox falter down the stretch, lose to Rangers, 6-3

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Lester, Sox falter down the stretch, lose to Rangers, 6-3

BOSTON Jon Lester cruised through the first five innings with relative ease, allowing no runs on just two hits. But, 29 pitches to 6 batters in the sixth, cost him two runs, on the way to a 6-3 Red Sox loss to the Rangers Tuesday night at Fenway Park.

The loss drops the Sox back under .500, at 55-56.

Lester took the loss, falling to 5-10 with an ERA of 5.36. went 6 23 innings, giving up four runs on six hits, two walks, and a wild pitch, with four strikeouts. The Sox are now 8-15 in his 23 starts, of which he has posted 11 quality starts.

David Murphy, the former Sox minor leaguer who was packaged in a trade for right-hander Eric Gagne at the trading deadline in 2007, lead off the seventh with a double to right, scoring on Ian Kinslers one-out single high off the wall in left that barely missed becoming a home run. With two outs, Kinsler scored on Hamiltons single to right, giving the Rangers a 2-0 advantage.

The Rangers added two more in the seventh when Michael Young walked with one out, going to third on Geovanny Sotos single to right and scoring on Murphys sacrifice fly. After a walk to No. 9 batter Mike Olt, Lester was done.

Mark Melancon entered, giving up a single to Kinsler, scoring Soto, for a 4-0 Texas lead.

Meanwhile, Rangers right-hander Ryan Dempster, who struggled in his first start with Texas since being acquired at the trading deadline from the Cubs, kept the Red Sox batters in check until the seventh inning. He went, 6 23 innings, giving up three runs, no earned runs, on six hits, one walk, and a home run, with six strikeouts.

Will Middlebrooks finally broke through on Dempster with a pinch-hit three-run home run in the seventh. With Jarrod Saltalamacchia and Ryan Kalish on base, Middlebrooks, pinch-hitting for Nick Punto, took the first pitch he saw from Dempster, an 85-mph slider. and drove it into the first row of Monster seats. The home run withstood a review by umpires when it appeared a fan had reached over. It was Middlebrooks 14th home run of the season, first as a pinch-hitter, and the Sox fourth from a pinch-hitter this season.

Thanks to a Kinsler error on Kalishs grounder earlier in the inning all the runs off Dempster were unearned.

Dempster had faced the Sox once before, June 15 in Chicago, while with the Cubs. In that game he went seven shutout innings, allowing five hits and two walks with three strikeouts, earning the win. In the two starts, combined he threw 13.2 scoreless innings against the Sox.

The Rangers added a run in the eighth off Melancon. Josh Hamilton walked to open the inning, going to second on Adrian Beltres groundout, scoring on Nelson Cruzs single to right, giving the Rangers a 5-3 lead.

The Rangers got a run in the ninth off Craig Breslow and Junichi Tazawa. Breslow hit Murphy with a pitch to open the inning. Craig Gentry, pinch running, stole second and scored and Elvis Andrus single of Tazawa, putting the Rangers up, 6-3.

After getting called out in the eighth inning for a check swing, Dustin Pedroia was ejected in the top of the ninth for arguing with first base umpire Paul Nauert. It was Pedroias second career ejection, first since Aug. 19, 2008, in Baltimore.

Biggest Red Sox busts in recent memory

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Biggest Red Sox busts in recent memory

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Farrell angered after Castillo fails to run out grounder

Farrell angered after Castillo fails to run out grounder

The Red Sox signed Cuban outfielder Rusney Castillo to a seven-year, $72.5 million contract bn August 2014. Over parts of three seasons, the 29-year-old has a .679 OPS across 337 plate appearances in the majors and spent the vast majority of the 2016 season at Triple-A Pawtucket.

Castillo had a chance to start things off on the right foot in 2017, but that ship has already sailed. On Thursday against Northeastern at JetBlue Park, Castillo didn’t run out a routine ground ball. He claims he lost track of the outs. Manager John Farrell isn’t happy about the situation. Via Evan Drellich of the Boston Herald:

“Disappointing for a couple of reasons,” Sox manager John Farrell said. “One, he has lost the number of outs. Still, regardless of another of outs, getting down the line is controllable. And for a player in his situation, every little aspect of the game is important. That’s something that was addressed in the moment. He needs to execute the game situation. And for that matter, every player. But that one obviously stood out.”

Everyone always makes far too big a deal about running out grounders. It’s a real nit to pick when it’s February 23 and your team just finished playing an exhibition game that is even more meaningless than the other exhibition games that will be played in the coming month.

That being said, Castillo has to prove himself to merit inclusion on the 25-man roster and that means dotting all his i’s and crossing all his t’s. Even if he went hitless all spring, Castillo could have at least said he couldn’t have done anything else better. But on day one, he already gave his team a reason to count him out.