Lester victim of N.L. rules

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Lester victim of N.L. rules

By Maureen Mullen
CSNNE.com Follow @maureenamullen
PITTSBURGH Although the Red Sox lost their previous two games at home against National League teams, perhaps if this game had been played in Fenway Park, the outcome might have been different. Instead, Jon Lester exited the game after just six innings albeit, with 107 pitches making way for a pinch-hitter.

Lester gave up three runs (two earned) on eight hits, a walk, and a hit batter, with five strikeouts. While he was not dominant, the outing was good enough for his 11th quality start in 16 outings this season. Instead, he suffered the loss, falling to 9-4, with a 3.66 ERA, as the Sox dropped the opener of their three-game set with the Pirates, 3-1.

"Actually thought he was pretty good, said manager Terry Francona. One walk and that was the pitcher in an inning when they scored two. We didn't help him out a whole lot.

The Sox left 11 runners on base, and went 0-for-8 with runners in scoring position. With David Ortiz out of the lineup until a pinch-hit appearance in the eighth inning, the Sox had to adjust to the National League style of play.

I dont worry about the offense, Lester said. I worry about getting outs. I dont want to give up any runs, let alone three. So just battled tonight.

Overall, Lester was satisfied with his outing, calling it good.

Threw the ball pretty well, he said. Kept the ball down. Other than two hits tonight, everything else was not squared up. Ill take my chances with that every time.

The Pirates scored two runs in the third when Ronny Cedeno led off with a bunt and went to third when Mike Cameron misplayed Mike McKenrys fly ball for a double. With first base open, Lester walked Maholm before Jose Tabata lined a shot off third base, scoring Cedeno. Chase dArnaud grounded into a double play, scoring McKenry, giving the Pirates a 2-1 lead.

In the sixth Neil Walker led off with a hard-hit ball that Kevin Youkilis couldnt handle. On the next batter, Matt Diaz, Youkilis fifth error of the season put runners at first and second for Lyle Overbay, who entered the game hitting .226 this season. But he went 2-for-3, including and RBI single in this at-bat to improve to 9-for-24 (.375) in his career against Lester, giving the Pirates a 3-1 edge.

Lester threw first-pitch strikes to 18 of the 27 batters he faced.

Jon did fine, said catcher Jason Varitek. Pitched himself out of some situations and had to make some pitches. Got some ground balls and unfortunately they were able to capitalize on some situations. But most importantly we didnt swing the bats very well.

Obviously I had a lot of pitches coming out of the sixth, Lester said. But if Im not hitting, maybe theres a chance to get another one. Thats National League baseball.

Maureen Mullen is on Twitter at http:twitter.commaureenamullen

Good news for Benintendi: Just a sprain, and he may return this year

Good news for Benintendi: Just a sprain, and he may return this year

BOSTON -- The news was about as good as it could be -- under the circumstances -- for rookie outfielder Andrew Benintendi.

Benintendi underwent a second round of tests and examinations Friday, which revealed he is only dealing with a sprained left knee. The tests found no structural damage to the knee, and the ACL remains intact.

"When you think back and look at the video,'' said manager John Farrell, "this could have been much, much worse.''

Benintendi injured the knee Wednesday night at Tropicana Field when he attempted to return to second base after breaking for third on a grounder to shortstop, and had the knee buckle on him.

He had to be helped off the field and, initially, it was feared Benintendi had suffered a more severe knee injury, one that would require a surgical procedure.

"I'm definitely fortunate,'' said Beintendi. "It looked a lot worse than it actually was. It's unfortunate it happened and I'll try to get as healthy as possible as quickly as I can.''

"We're lucky that the ACL is not involved,'' said Farrell. "We're still optimistic that he could return this season.''

Benintendi was placed on the disabled list Thursday and will be lost to the team for at least the next two weeks, and likely longer.

"It's an interruption,'' acknowledged Farrell. "His production has been apparent, on both sides of the baseball. He's had an impact. So we're going to miss him. But at the same time, I think we've gotten a lot of good news here today that, despite the injury and the DL stint, there's optimism in this and that's in his return sometime this season.

"He'll be back as (soon as) available, and optimistically, we're thinking that could still be the regular season.'' Farrell praised Benintendi for being a "complete player.''

Benitendi was walking without a limp, though he was wearing a brace on the knee for additional support.

"He's actually feeling better today than [Thursday],'' said Farrell. "He's improved. This is going to take a little time. Obviously, it's going to take 15 days at a minimum. What further time is needed remains to be seen. But today was some good news -- (especially considering) what could have been.''

"At the time,'' added Benintendi, "I was nervous and didn't know what to expect.''