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.