Lester takes hard-luck loss versus Rays

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Lester takes hard-luck loss versus Rays

By MaureenMullen
CSNNE.com

BOSTON There was not much more Jon Lester could do Tuesday night -- except get a win.

Despite holding the Rays to three runs on seven hits over seven innings, with two walks and eight strikeouts, Lester and the Red Sox fell to the Rays, 3-2. Their record fell to 2-9, the worst in baseball.

Lester has been as much a hard-luck loser as the Sox have seen this season. It was his second straight quality start -- he shut out the Indians over seven innings in Cleveland on Thursday -- but he still doesn't have a win to show for it.

In this game Lester was matched against David Price, Tampa Bays ace and another of the American Leagues elite left-handers. Price (1-2) earned his first win of the season.

After Daisuke Matsuzakas disastrous outing Monday night, which lasted just two innings and taxed the bullpen, Lester gave manager Terry Francona exactly what was expected of him.

He knows what were up against tonight, Francona said. Were not knocking the ball all over the ballpark. They got one of the best lefties in the league, too. And we just didnt do enough.

In the first inning, Lester got Sam Fuld to ground out to Marco Scutaro at shortstop, before striking out Johnny Damon and B.J. Upton to end the inning. Lester struck out Damon to end the third inning, and then struck out Tampa Bays three, four and five hitters Upton, Felipe Lopez, and Sean Rodriquez in the fourth. From the third to the fourth, five of the six outs were on strikeouts.

But Lester faltered in the fifth. After retiring the first batter, he surrendered a single on an 0-and-2 pitch to Kelly Shoppach. Dan Johnson and Elliott Johnson followed with singles of their own, loading the bases and bringing Sam Fuld to the plate.

Fuld hit a swinging bunt to Adrian Gonzalez, charging from first. Gonzalez appeared to have just a bit of trouble getting the ball out of his glove before he threw home and Shoppach slid in safely, tying the score and keeping the bases loaded.

Damon then singled to center, scoring both Johnsons and putting Tampa Bay in front, 3-1. It was all the Rays would need.

Were facing one of the better guys in the league tonight, just like they were, said Francona. I dont think you ever go into a game against a guy like Price and think youre going to knock him around the ballpark.

I thought Lester was every bit as good. They bunched all their hits right about in a row. They got a swinging bunt. The 0-2 pitch to Shoppach to start it off, Lester left it out over the plate and Shoppach served a ball into left. Then a couple balls were hit, Johnnys ball up the middle . . . But I thought Lester was really good.

Jason Varitek, who caught Lester, was just as impressed.

I thought he did well, Varitek said. He kept us in the game. That inning could have gotten further away. He made pitches to keep it at 3-1 . . .

"After that, Lester battled and stayed and didn't let it get away from him.

Wins for Lester -- and the team -- have been hard to come by this season.

We dont have a whole lot of wins ourselves and its not about Jon, Varitek said. Its about us. Were playing better and we just got to push and find a way to win a game.

Its not a whole lot of fun for anyone. But everyones doing their work, going about their business right. And if we continue to throw a quality start like that, were going to win a lot of games.

Lester accepted his tough luck.

Four singles beat me, or whatever it was, five singles, he said. But you know what? Ill take that every start, if youre going to beat me with singles, and then tip my hat. The only pitch Id want back in that inning is the ball I threw to Damon. Just right side of the plate, just up a little bit, he was able to put a good swing on it. But I dont really know what else to say about it.

The Sox have been at a loss -- for words and games -- for much of the season. With the combination of the Red Sox loss, the Rays win, and Houstons win, the Sox now have the worst record in baseball.

I think its a combination of everything on every night, Lester said. I thought we played really good tonight. If our record wasnt what it is right now I dont think really too many guys would be worried about tonight. But, obviously, we know what were up against right now.

"But we just got to keep grinding. Everybody in that clubhouse is going to show up every day. Its the same deal every night we talk to yall. Its the same answers and its clich-y, but its the truth. We show up every day. Everybodyd in that clubhouse cares. Everybody wants to play hard. Everybody wants to do good. Were trying. Itll come. Its obviously not what we wanted right now but its too much talent in that clubhouse to be where we're at right now.

Asked what would help right his team, Lester replied:

We need a night like Tampa Bay had Monday night when the Rays scored 16 runs on 20 hits. We need a night where we show up and we just pound the baseball and we do everything right. I think also a night where . . . we come from behind and get a win. That, I think, would get us going. Were just not putting everything together.

Maureen Mullen is on Twitter athttp:twitter.commaureenamullen

Red Sox' seven-run rally in seventh keys 9-4 win over Rangers

Red Sox' seven-run rally in seventh keys 9-4 win over Rangers

BOSTON -- Chris Sale was perfectly happy to sit back and watch the Red Sox hitters do the work this time.

Sale cruised into the fifth inning, then was rewarded in the seventh when the Boston batters erupted for seven runs on their way to a 9-4 victory over the Texas Rangers on Wednesday night.

Sale (5-2) struck out six, falling short in his attempt to become the first pitcher in baseball's modern era to strike out at least 10 batters in nine straight games in one season.

But he didn't seem to mind.

"It was fun," said the left-hander, who received more runs of support in the seventh inning alone than while he was in any other game this season. "You get run after run, hit after hit. When we score like that, it's fun."

Dustin Pedroia waved home the tiebreaking run on a wild pitch, then singled in two more as the Red Sox turned a 3-1 deficit into a five-run lead and earned their third straight victory. Sam Travis had two singles for the Red Sox in his major league debut.

"I was a little nervous in the first inning," he said. "I'd be lying to you guys if I said I wasn't."

Mike Napoli homered for Texas, which has lost three of four to follow a 10-game winning streak.

FOR SALE

Sale, who also struck out 10 or more batters in eight straight games in 2015 with the White Sox, remains tied for the season record with Pedro Martinez. (Martinez had 10 straight in a span from 1999-2000.)

After scoring four runs in support of Sale in his first six starts, the Red Sox have scored 27 while he was in the game in his last five. He took a no-hitter into the fifth, but finished with three earned runs, six hits and a walk in 7 1/3 innings.

"Guys pulled through for me when I was probably pretty mediocre," he said.

NO RELIEF

Sam Dyson (1-5) faced seven batters in relief of Martin Perez and gave up four hits, three walks - two intentional - and a wild pitch without retiring a batter.

"Martin threw the ball really well and I came in with two guys on and couldn't get an out," Dyson said. "Sometimes they hit them where they are, and sometimes they hit them where they aren't."

Asked if he felt any different, he said: "Everything's the same.

"If I get my (expletive) handed to me, it's not like anything's wrong," he said. "Any more amazing questions from you all?"

SEVEN IN THE SEVENTH

It was 3-1 until the seventh, when Andrew Benintendi and Travis singled with one out to chase Perez. Mitch Moreland singled to make it 3-2, pinch-hitter Josh Rutledge singled to tie it and, after Mookie Betts was intentionally walked to load the bases, Moreland scored on a wild pitch to give Boston the lead.

Pedroia singled in two more runs, Xander Bogaerts doubled and Hanley Ramirez was intentionally walked to load the bases. Dyson was pulled after walking Chris Young to force in another run.

Austin Bibens-Dirkx got Benintendi to pop up foul of first base, but Napoli let it fall safely - his second such error in the game. Benintendi followed with a sacrifice fly that made it 8-3 before Travis was called out on strikes to end the inning.

TRAINER'S ROOM

Rangers: 2B Rougned Odor was shaken up when he dived for Betts' grounder up the middle in the third inning. He was slow getting up. After being looked at by the trainer, he remained in the game.

Red Sox: LHP David Price made his second rehab start for Triple-A Pawtucket, allowing six runs - three earned - seven hits and a walk. He struck out four in 3 2/3 innings, throwing 89 pitches, 61 for strikes, and left without addressing reporters. 3B Pablo Sandoval also played in the game, going 2 for 4 with two runs.

"He felt fine physically," said Red Sox manager John Farrell, who added he would talk to Price on Thursday morning to determine how to proceed. "We had a scout there who liked what he saw."

UP NEXT:

Rangers: Will send RHP Nick Martinez (1-2) to the mound in the finale of the three-game series.

Red Sox: LHP Drew Pomeranz (3-3) looks to snap a personal two-game losing streak.

David Price dodges media after second rough rehab start

David Price dodges media after second rough rehab start

If only David Price could pitch as well as he dodges the media.

The Red Sox lefty bailed on a typical post-start media session with reporters in Pawtucket on Wednesday, after his second minor league rehab outing in Triple-A was another dud.

As Price comes back from a nondescript elbow injury, difficulty retiring minor league hitters doesn't combine well with difficulty facing questions. He sat in the mid-90s in his second rehab start with Pawtucket, but allowed six runs, three earned, in 3 2/3 innings. He struck out four and walked one.

The PawSox were at home at McCoy Stadium against Triple-A Louisville, a Reds affiliate, and Price heard some heckling. Postgame, he wanted to hear nothing, apparently.

Per CSNNE’s Bill Messina, who was on site in Pawtucket, the media was waiting outside the clubhouse for Price, as is standard. 

PawSox media relations told the media to go to the weight room, where Price would meet them. As media headed that way, PR alerted reporters that Price was leaving and did not want to talk. Media saw a car leaving, but there was no interview.

On the mound, Price’s velocity is there, but the command is not. The Red Sox would be unwise to bring back Price before really two more minor league starts — one to show he can do well, another to show he can repeat it.

Price’s ERA in two starts for Pawtucket is 9.53. He’s gone 5 2/3 innings and allowed six earned runs, while striking out eight and walking two overall.