By Maureen Mullen
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BOSTON -- Jon Lester matched his season and career high allowing three home runs to the Brewers, including back-to-back homers on back-to-back pitches to start the game, as the Red Sox lost to the Brewers, 4-2, at Fenway Park Saturday night.
On the third pitch of the game, Rickie Weeks hit his 25th career lead-off home run, into the first row of Monster seats in left. On the next pitch, Corey Hart homered into the bleachers behind the Sox bullpen in center.
The Sox evened the game in the second when Kevin Youkilis lead off with a double and David Ortiz walked. After getting Darnell McDonald to line out to third baseman Casey McGehee and Marco Scutaro looking at strike three, Brewers left-hander Randy Wolf gave up consecutive singles to Jarrod Saltalamacchia, scoring Youkilis, and Mike Cameron, scoring Ortiz.
But Lester could not hold the lead, giving up another lead-off homer, to former Sox George Kottaras, in the third. With two outs in the inning, Lester allowed back-to-back walks to Ryan Braun and Prince Fielder, before McGehees single to left, scoring Braun.
Entering the game, the Sox appeared poised for success. In their last 11 games facing left-handed starting pitchers, they were 11-0. But, they could do little with Brewers lefty Randy Wolf, who went seven innings, giving up two runs on nine hits and one walk, with three strikeouts. Wolf improved to 5-4, with a 3.15 ERA.
Lester took the loss, falling to 9-3 (3.70 ERA). He went eight innings, allowing four runs (three earned) on seven hits and three walks, with eight strike outs and three home runs. On the first four pitches of the game he matched his home run total (two) over his previous five starts combined.
The only other time Lester had given up back-to-back home runs was May 4, 2009, at Yankee Stadium, when Johnny Damon and Mark Teixeira went deep in the fifth inning. Saturday was the first time he has given up two home runs in the first inning.
PLAYER OF THE GAME: Randy Wolf
When starter Shaun Marcum couldn't make it through just one inning Friday night, with the bullpen pitching the rest of the way, the Brewers needed Wolf to go deep into this game. He did just that, going seven innings, giving up two runs on nine hits and one walk, with three strikeouts. Wolf improved to 5-4, with a 3.15 ERA. In four career starts at Fenway Park, Wolf is 2-1, with a 2.73 ERA, his second-best career ERA at any ballpark in which has pitched at least three times, behind San Franciscos AT&T Park (2.59 ERA).
Adrian Gonzalez, who has faced Wolf more than any other Sox hitter, went 0-for-4 and is now 6-for-21 in his career against the Brewers lefty.
He mixed his pitches, Gonzalez said. Hes definitely pitching a lot differently, no, not a lot but different than he has in the past years when Ive seen him. Hes throwing cutters now and throwing a lot more changeups. He threw me a changeup and mixing the ball in and out, up and down. He kept us off balance.
HONORABLE MENTION: Rickie Weeks
Weeks set the tone for the aggressive Brewers. He led off the game with his 14th home run of the season on Lesters third pitch. It was Weeks fourth lead-off homer of the season, and 25th of his career. He went 2-for-4, the only Brewers batter with more than one of his teams eight hits.
Weeksbecame a statistical oddity whenAdrian Gonzalezdropped his foul pop and Weeks hit the next pitch for a home run, thus becoming an unearned run as the lead-off hitter of a game. According to the Elias Sports Bureau, Weeks is the first batter since theExpos' Warren Cromartieon July 4, 1979, to lead off a game with dropped foul then hitting a home run. Cromartie did so off the Cubs' Bill Caudill afterthird basemanSteve Ontiveros dropped Cromarties foul fly.
THE GOAT: Jon Lester
Although he pitched a quality start, his 10th in 15 outings this season, going eight innings, allowing four runs (three earned) on seven hits and three walks, with eight strike outs and three home runs, Lester struggled from the beginning. On his first four pitches of the game he matched his home run total (two) over his previous five starts combined. The three home runs he allowed matched a career high, which he set on Opening Day in Texas. The only other time Lester had given up back-to-back home runs was May 4, 2009, at Yankee Stadium, when Johnny Damon and Mark Teixeira went deep in the fifth inning. Saturday was the first time he has given up two home runs in the first inning.
Trailing 2-0 entering the second inning, his offense got him back to square. But, he gave up the go-ahead runs in the third inning, when former Sox catcher George Kottaras led off with a home run. Then with two outs, Lester allowed back-to-back walks followed by an RBI single.
"We lost, Lester said. You can sit back and say there were some positives, with the way it started it could have been a lot worse. Just tried to minimize the damage and keep the guys in the game. Obviously with the way we've been swinging the bat lately, I thought for sure if I just kept them where they were at, we'd have a chance. But you've got to tip your hat to Randy Wolf tonight. He threw the ball better than I did. And that's the main thing - you've got to outpitch the other guy, and he did that tonight."
THE TURNING POINT
Trailing 2-0 going into the bottom of the second, the Sox offense evened the game as Kevin Youkilis led off with a double, followed by David Ortizs walk. With two outs, Jarrod Saltalamacchias single scored Youkilis, and Mike Camerons single scored Ortiz.
But Lester quickly gave up the go-ahead runs and the game in the next inning when former Sox catcher George Kottaras led off with his second home run of the season. With two outs, Lester allowed back-to-back walks, followed by a run-scoring single from Casey McGehee.
After that, the Sox offense could do little with Brewers lefty Randy Wolf, mustering just five baserunners over the next five innings, with just one extra-base hit a Marco Scutaro double to lead off the fourth -- and four singles.
STAT OF THE DAY: 14
With three home runs allowed to the Brewers, Lester has now given up 14 in 15 starts this season, matching his home run total of 2010 in 32 games. The three home runs are a career-high, matching the number of homers he gave up to the Rangers on Opening Day. The only other time Lester had given up back-to-back home runs was May 4, 2009, at Yankee Stadium, to Johnny Damon and Mark Teixeira in the fifth inning. Saturday was the first time he has given up two home runs in the first inning. The last Sox pitcher to give up back-to-back homers to start a game was Pedro Martinez on June 3, 2002, in Detroit.
QUOTE OF NOTE:
He fell behind a lot of hitters. They were aggressive. The back-to-back homers kind of set the tone a little bit for them. But he just fell behind a lot of guys. But to his credit, he battled and gave us a lot of innings. We were still in the game. I think we let Wolf off the hook with some at-bats. But all in all, I think he was just battling some control. --Catcher Jarrod Saltalamacchia on Jon Lesters outing
Maureen Mullen is on Twitter at http:twitter.commaureenamullen