Lester suffers first career loss to Orioles


Lester suffers first career loss to Orioles

BOSTON -- Following Friday night's 4-2 loss to the Baltimore Orioles, Bobby Valentine said he'd "die" with Jon Lester every time he's on the mound.

One of the major problems for the Red Sox this season has been that -- far too often -- they can't survive when Lester has the ball.

That was once again the case on Friday, as Lester allowed four runs on eight hits and three walks while striking out three in seven innings of work.

It marks Lester's 13th loss of the season, and his first-career loss to the Orioles, in 21 starts against the club.

"It was bound to happen sometime," said Lester afterwards. "They're playing good this year. They've always had a good offense. They're just putting everything else together."

The Orioles find themselves in a serious playoff race. The Red Sox find themselves searching for answers, just waiting for the nightmarish season to end. It's a complete role-reversal for September baseball at Fenway, with Baltimore in town.

And even though Lester has been an improved pitcher in the last month-and-a-half, it still hasn't been good enough.

"There wasn't anything that bad. Jon was good, actually, tonight," said Valentine after he loss. "Wieters hit a couple balls, one down the right-field line, one down the left-field line that barely stayed fair.

"His pitches were crisp, he battled the whole way. We got a one-run lead for him, and then tied it up. We just couldn't get that inning to get guys back in the dugout and maybe feel good about ourselves."

Matt Wieters drove in Baltimore's first-three runs of the game. He then came across the plate for the fourth. Both of Wieters' hits were down the line, with the second being the game-winner, just barely staying fair down the left-field line in the sixth inning, driving in one, and giving the Orioles a 3-2 lead.

"He did a good job of sticking his nose on one, and hitting it down the line," said Lester. "And then he turned on one."

When asked what his goal will be for the rest of this season, Lester said, "Pitch, just pitch. Every time I go out there, I learn something about myself, and about the other team. And the adjustments that we had to make after the All-Star break, to continue to work on those.

"I'll just try to pitch as many innings as I can. It's all I can control, and go out there and try to keep the team in the game."

And Valentine doesn't believe next season will be as bad a year for the lefty.

"If he pitches like that . . . he's going to win a lot of games," said Valentine. "He'll be up there in wins.

"And again, balls are going to get hit at people more in the future, I think. And if he stays healthy, he's a very good pitcher. I'd die with him every time he's out there."

Three-run HR from Sandoval (.353) leads Red Sox split squad past Rays, 7-5

Three-run HR from Sandoval (.353) leads Red Sox split squad past Rays, 7-5

Pablo Sandoval hit his fourth home run of the spring and Rusney Castillo had three hits to lead a Red Sox split squad to a 7-5 victory over the Tampa Bay Rays on Saturday in Port Charlotte, Fla. 

Sandoval, who has won back his third base job after missing nearly all of last season following surgery on his left shoulder, connected for a three-run shot, batting right-handed, against Rays starter Ian Snell in the fifth inning. The switch-hitting Sandoval had abandoned hitting right-handed in 2015, his last full season with the Red Sox.

He's hitting .353 this spring with a 1.051 OPS and 19 RBI.

Castillo, the Cuban outfielder signed to a seven-year, $72 million deal late in 2014 but again likely headed for Triple-A Pawtucket, went 3-for-4 and is hitting .368 this spring. Catcher Blake Swihart, also probably Pawtucket-bound, had two hits and is hitting .325.


Another strong start for Kendrick in Red Sox split squad's 3-3 tie with Phillies

Another strong start for Kendrick in Red Sox split squad's 3-3 tie with Phillies

Kyle Kendrick strengthened his bid for a spot in the rotation by allowing two runs in six innings and striking out six and Jackie Bradley homered as a Red Sox split squad played to a 3-3 tie with the Philadelphia Phillies on Saturday in Fort Myers, Fla.

Kendrick, 32, a non-roster invitee to spring training, allowed eight hits and a walk in his sixth start this spring. He's been the Red Sox best starter with an ERA of 2.17. 

With David Price out until May and lefty Drew Pomeranz still a question mark, Kendrick could find his way into the rotation behind Chris Sale, Rick Porcello, Steven Wright and Eduardo Rodriguez.

Bradley went 2-for-3 with his third homer of the spring. He's hitting .244 in spring training games. 

The Phillies pushed across the tying run in the ninth off lefty reliever Robby Scott, the first run he's allowed this spring in 10 innings. 

The Minnesota Twins host the Red Sox on Sunday at 1:05 at Hammond Stadium in Fort Myers.