Lester on starts: 'It's just Groundhog Day every day'

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Lester on starts: 'It's just Groundhog Day every day'

BOSTON Jon Lester went seven solid outings against the Nationals Sunday, giving up three runs on six hits with two walks and a season-high nine strikeouts.

It was his seventh quality start in 13 outings this season. But it was also his third straight no-decision.

Lester left with the Red Sox trailing by a run, in the eventual 4-3 loss. He entered the seventh with a 2-1 lead.But, he gave up consecutive singles to Ian Desmond and Tyler Moore to open the inning before striking out Jesus Flores and getting Roger Bernadina to line out to pop out to Adrian Gonzalez on an attempted sacrifice bunt.

But, Lester gave up a two-out, 2-1 double off the wall in left fieldto Danny Espinosa, the Nats leadoff hitter, putting the Nats up by a run.

The Sox tied the score in the bottom of the inning, taking Lester off the hook.

Another battling effort, manager Bobby Valentine said. One pitch away from coming in after seven with a 2-1 lead. Just a hit off the wall. Had his strikeout pitches going, fastball, changeup.

Jon looked good, said catcher Jarrod Saltalamacchia. His fastball was good, cutter was good. Its a fastball-hitting team so mixed in a lot of curveballs in there that kept them off balance, and just he pitched a great game.

But, he has no-decisions in each of his last three starts, as his record is stalled at 3-4 with a 4.57 ERA.In seven starts after a Red Sox loss, Lester has a record of 1-3 with three no decisions.

"It seems like it's just Groundhog Day every day, every start for me. I can't seem to get a break," Lester said. "I feel like I threw the ball good today. A fly ball to left, a 300-foot fly ball -- different ballgame.

"It's just, today, a 300-foot fly ball is the difference in the game. It's bad luck in some games. It's playing bad in other games. It's pitching bad. It's not playing good defense. Whatever it is, it seems to come back and bite us."

Red Sox can't rally against Rays after Chris Archer's start

Red Sox can't rally against Rays after Chris Archer's start

The appearance of Tampa Bay Rays lefty Ryan Yarbrough almost got the Boston Red Sox back in their spring training exhibition game. The Sox managed to score all three of their runs against the 25-year-old in their 7-3 loss to the Tampa Bay Rays at Charlotte Sports Park in Port Charlotte, Florida on Sunday.

But the Rays, who scored runs in five different innings, managed to widen their lead in the eighth inning by beating up on Sox lefty Luis Isla, a 24-year-old who spent last season with Portland and Pawtucket. In the eighth, Rays' Joe McCarthy homered and Luke Maile managed an RBI single, which cappped off the scoring in the contest. Sox starter Hector Velazquez allowed three hits and an earned run in his two innnings. The 28-year-old, who spent 2016 in the Mexican League, still managed to amass four strikeouts.

"I was a little nervous at the start, being in the United States for the first time and playing for a big league club for the first time," Velazquez told RedSox.com through an interpreter. "But once I got the first out, all the nerves went away, and I was able to bear down."

Despite allowing two homers, Boston pitchers combined for 14 strikeouts.

With the exception of the Sox' inning against Yarbrough, Boston's veterans and prospects struggled mighltily against the Rays pitching staff. Chris Archer started for Tampa, and set the tone in the first two innings, where he threw two strikeouts, one walk and allowed one hit and no runs. Andrew Benintendi (0-for-3), Sam Travis (0-for-2) and Bryce Brentz (0-for-3) went hitless on the day. Travis, however, reached base on balls.

"I felt good. I accomplished what I wanted to accomplish," Archer said, via the Red Sox' team website. "Just out there having fun, it was really fun to be out there in the spectrum with the umpire, the fans, the batter. It was fun."

Marco Hernandez's triple got the Sox' eighth-inning off to a strong start, and singles from Matt Dominguez, Deven Marrero, Rusney Castillo and Cole Sturgeon followed. The Sox' eighth inning scoring ended after Castillo got thrown out by left fielder McCarthy at third. Six Red Sox finished with one-hit outings, including Brock Holt and Blake Swihart.

The Sox will next host the St. Louis Cardinals in Fort Myers on Monday at 1:05 p.m. ET.