Lester suffers first career loss to Orioles

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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."

Ramirez, Leon homer, Red Sox beat Angels 9-4 on Papi's night

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Ramirez, Leon homer, Red Sox beat Angels 9-4 on Papi's night

BOSTON - Hanley Ramirez and Sandy Leon hit two-run homers and the Boston Red Sox beat the Los Angeles Angels 9-4 on Friday to cap a night in which David Ortiz's number became the latest retired at Fenway Park.

It was the 250th career home run for Ramirez, a good friend of Ortiz who was also born in the Dominican Republic. Leon finished with three hits and four RBIs.

The homers helped provide a nice cushion for Rick Porcello (4-9), who gave up four runs and struck out eight in 6 1/3 innings to earn the victory. It was the 13th straight start Porcello has gone at least six innings.

Alex Meyer (3-4) allowed five runs and five hits in 3 1/3 innings.

Los Angeles scored three runs in the seventh, but cooled off after Porcello left.

Boston got out to a 3-0 lead in the first inning, scoring on an RBI double by Xander Bogaerts and then getting two more runs off wild pitches by Meyer.

Ramirez gave Porcello a 5-1 lead in the fourth with his two-run shot to right field.

This could serve as a needed confidence boost for Porcello, who had been 0-4 with a 7.92 ERA in his previous five starts, allowing 47 hits and 27 earned runs.

He had command of his pitches early, holding the Angels scoreless until the fourth, when a catching error by Leon at home allowed Albert Pujols to cross the plate.

Ortiz: 'A super honor' to have number retired by Red Sox

Ortiz: 'A super honor' to have number retired by Red Sox

BOSTON —  The Red Sox have become well known for their ceremonies, for their pull-out-all-the-stops approach to pomp. The retirement of David Ortiz’s No. 34 on Friday evening was in one way, then, typical.

A red banner covered up Ortiz’s No. 34 in right field, on the facade of the grandstand, until it was dropped down as Ortiz, his family, Red Sox ownership and others who have been immortalized in Fenway lore looked on. Carl Yazstremski and Jim Rice, Wade Boggs and Pedro Martinez. 

The half-hour long tribute further guaranteed permanence to a baseball icon whose permanence in the city and the sport was never in doubt. But the moments that made Friday actually feel special, rather than expected, were stripped down and quick. 

Dustin Pedroia’s not one to belabor many points, never been the most effusive guy around. (He’d probably do well on a newspaper deadline.) The second baseman spoke right before Ortiz took to the podium behind the mound.

“We want to thank you for not the clutch hits, the 500 home runs, we want to thank you for how you made us feel and it’s love,” Pedroia said, with No. 34 painted into both on-deck circles and cut into the grass in center field. “And you’re not our teammate, you’re not our friend, you’re our family. … Thank you, we love you.”

Those words were enough for Ortiz to have tears in his eyes.

“Little guy made me cry,” Ortiz said, wiping his hands across his face. “I feel so grateful. I thank God every day for giving me the opportunity to have the career that I have. But I thank God even more for giving me the family and what I came from, who teach me how to try to do everything the right way. Nothing — not money — nothing is better than socializing with the people that are around you, get familiar with, show them love, every single day. It’s honor to get to see my number …. I remember hitting batting practice on this field, I always was trying to hit those numbers.”

Now that’s a poignant image for a left-handed slugger at Fenway Park.

He did it once, he said — hit the numbers. He wasn’t sure when. Somewhere in 2011-13, he estimated — but he said he hit Bobby Doerr’s No. 1.

“It was a good day to hit during batting practice,” Ortiz remembered afterward in a press conference. “But to be honest with you, I never thought I’d have a chance to hit the ball out there. It’s pretty far. My comment based on those numbers was, like, I started just getting behind the history of this organization. Those guys, those numbers have a lot of good baseball in them. It takes special people to do special things and at the end of the day have their number retired up there, so that happening to me today, it’s a super honor to be up there, hanging with those guys.”

The day was all about his number, ultimately, and his number took inspiration from the late Kirby Puckett. Ortiz’s major league career began with the Twins in 1997. Puckett passed away in 2006, but the Red Sox brought his children to Fenway Park. They did not speak at the podium or throw a ceremonial first pitch, but their presence likely meant more than, say, Jason Varitek’s or Tim Wakefield’s.

“Oh man, that was very emotional,” Ortiz said. “I’m not going to lie to you, like, when I saw them coming toward me, I thought about Kirby. A lot. That was my man, you know. It was super nice to see his kids. Because I remember, when they were little guys, little kids. Once I got to join the Minnesota Twins, Kirby was already working in the front office. So they were, they used to come in and out. I used to get to see them. But their dad was a very special person for me and that’s why you saw me carry the No. 34 when I got here. It was very special to get to see them, to get kind of connected with Kirby somehow someway.”

Ortiz’s place in the row of 11 retired numbers comes in between Boggs’ No. 26 and Jackie Robinson’s No. 42.