By Sean McAdam
CSNNE.com Red Sox Insider Follow @sean_mcadam
ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. -- The Red Sox turned to Jon Lester Sunday to snap them out of their worst losing streak since April. For one day at least, that trust was misplaced.
Lester labored through a 43-pitch first inning during which the Tampa Bay Rays scored three times. Thanks to the early elevated pitch count, Lester was done after just four innings, having thrown 111 pitches.
The three runs in the first were more than Lester allowed in his first three previous starts combined.
"He was kind of scattering balls," said Terry Francona of his lefty, "and you could tell by the pitch count how hard they were making him work."
"I didn't have anything today," confessed Lester who lost for the first time since Aug. 10. "It was one of those days where I had no command of one pitch. I didn't have a pitch that could get me back into counts.
"No excuses. I just picked the wrong time to have one of these."
After the three runs in the first, Lester battled and stranded two runners in the second and allowed just one run over his final three innings.
But the Sox weren't having any success against James Shields and the 4-1 deficit seemed far bigger than it was.
"He doesn't give up a ton of runs because he's good," said Francona. "But that was real hard work for him today."
The outing was the shortest for Lester since July 5 when he lasted just four innings against Toronto.
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The Pablo Sandoval redemption tour is underway as the former World Series MVP tries to revive his career after two disastrous seasons with the Red Sox organization.
In an interview with ESPN Deportes, he admits to being “complacent” during his first two seasons in Boston after signing a five-year, $95 million deal.
"My career had fallen into an abyss because I was so complacent with things that I had already accomplished," Sandoval said. "I did not work hard in order to achieve more and to remain at the level of the player that I am and that I can be."
After dealing Travis Shaw to the Brewers, Sandoval is expected to be the Red Sox primary third baseman in 2017.
"I am not taking anything for granted," he said. "I am here to work hard. I'm not thinking about the position or not. I am starting from scratch, and I am here to show what I can do on the field."
The 30-year-old says he’s following a “really strict routine” this offseason, and it shows. In a recent photo, Sandoval appears noticeably thinner. Sandoval says his wife giving birth to “Baby Panda” has served as inspiration.
"Watching 'Baby Panda' grow up and that he gets the opportunity to see his father play in the majors for seven, eight more years, to get back to the success I had, that's my motivation every day," Sandoval said. "The people that I surround myself with now and my family, they are the key to my success. This has been a life lesson."
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